Truth on the Shelf
As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire . . . Jeremiah 36:23
Because I believe that God will always forgive me, I have often done wrong today with the intention of simply asking forgiveness tomorrow. I’ve known the truth, but my appetite for a thing overruled my desire to do right and so, I put the truth on the shelf. I planned to pick it up again eventually . . . when I was done doing what I wanted.
Because I still claimed to believe in God, I felt I wasn’t really that bad. It’s not like I’m denying God’s existence or openly defying him. What’s that? I am defying God by doing whatever I want? Well, at least I still believe in him . . . even though I’m following me.
Today’s passage speaks about defiance of God. In the story, God commanded Jeremiah to record all the judgements that he had spoken through Jeremiah. These condemning words were eventually read to King Jehoiakim, who cut the scrolls apart and burned them as they were being read. His brazen act of defiance boldly proclaimed that he did not fear or obey God. Jehoiakim’s rebelliousness led him and his people to destruction and death.
In reading the story, it’s easy for me to think of those who openly defy God. I know those who don’t believe in or follow God. They deserve what they get. Glad I’m not one of them.
The problem, is that my truth-on-the-shelf plan is not morally much better than Jehoiakim’s defiance. At least Jehoiakim was consistent. He didn’t try to fool God, claiming to follow him, while going his own way.
If we claim to follow God, we cannot simply put his word on the shelf when it becomes inconvenient or uncomfortable to follow it. When we claim faith but live for ourselves, we are, like Jehoiakim, defying God. This may not lead to instant death, but we pursue our own disaster as we pursue ourselves. If we desire to follow God and to know the life that only he can bring, then we must daily choose to live out the truth that we claim to believe.