“His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding back, and I could not” (Jeremiah 20:9)
It has often been said that men have selective hearing. It is obvious which group in our population started this saying but they ought not to think they should be excluded.
The message that God is Love seems to have permeated much of our society but not that God is also holy and a righteous judge. Consequently when God deals with our wickedness in righteous judgment we are led to the thought that God is not love. Many have turned to bitterness and hatred of God because He exposed their wicked heart. Jeremiah records the Lord saying, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? The Lord then goes on to say that only He can.
The Lord says concerning a nation on which He is about to judge, “If that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring on it” (Jeremiah 18:8). Also concerning a nation on which the Lord desired good, “if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it” (18:10).
Following these statements the Lord called for Israel to repent, to turn back from gods of their own making and obey Him. This they refused to do saying, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart” (v 12).
God is true to Himself and therefore His actions and words are consistent without variation. How He deals with nations is, in principle, how He deals with individuals. What we see in this revelation is that God will respond favourably to the person who repents and follows Him but that He will also remove His favour from the one who chooses to follow his own evil heart.
Those who accuse God of not loving them ought to have a look at their own attitudes and conduct – and evaluate them in the light of who God is. If they turn from evil, He will show favour toward them – but if they choose to remain in wickedness, God will remove whatever favour He may have desired for them.
Jeremiah was mocked (20:7) and put in the stocks (20:3) because the people rejected the message – but it was not him who was mocked and rejected, it was the Lord. Jeremiah didn’t want to keep on preaching the message because of the reaction of the people yet he couldn’t help himself (20:9).
Some people we rub shoulders with will have selective hearing and may mock our words as we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Like Jeremiah the Lord has called us to proclaim the Good News. We must speak it clearly so that people can distinguish the true from the false and we must also speak it all. We cannot help it if others have selective hearing but we must not be selective in what we speak concerning the Gospel.
May the abundant grace of the Lord be upon you as you follow Jeremiah’s example in this New Year.