“For after I turned back, I repented; And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed and also humiliated because I bore the reproach of my youth” ~ Jeremiah 31:19.
I have three children, twelve grandchildren, and many friends and acquaintances that are younger than me, and one thing I have learned through the years is that the young don’t always do what they are told. I can warn one of these from my experience of a path they are thinking of traveling, and instead of hearing and receiving the warning, they too often choose to walk the path for themselves and learn things the hard way. In the world’s economy, there is too often an unseen badge of honor we feel we have earned by learning things the hard way, by experience rather than through instruction. But in God’s kingdom, the badge of honor comes to those who hear and, through faith, obey the instruction given.
“The young don’t always do what they are told” comes to me in the voice of a Stargate SG1 character named Anteaus, a leader of the Nox in episode 107. He was not just speaking of the child Nox under his care, but he was speaking of the SG1 team and the people of earth. What has me thinking on this subject this beautiful Sunday afternoon?
On my way home after Church, mulling over the message and its application to me personally, the Spirit, in the voice of Anteaus, said to me—about me, “The young don’t always do what they are told.”
I am nearing 60 years of age, an elder in our society, yet to God whose age is beyond number, I am “the young.” Still, at my age, I too often fail to hear fully what God is telling me. There are a couple of things we flesh beings are prone to do when we are not hearing and receiving through faith God’s instruction to us with understanding and clear comprehension:
One – We too often hear, but then add more to His instruction than He intended we bear; just like Adam and Eve. Adam was told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet somehow when the serpent asked Eve about it, it was translated to and through her as, “We are not to eat, or even touch it!” (Genesis 3) So one way we fail to do what we are told is by making God’s instruction burdensome by adding to it things that He did not intend us to bear. Or, if you are like me, we often add things that make it less our fault when we fail, as you will see in my example below.
I am not beyond making God’s instruction to me more difficult or convenient by adding ultimatums or a way out beyond what He instructed me. Just today God instructed me through 1 Peter 1:1-2 that we are chosen for the purpose of obedience to Christ. As I noted that in my study notes, I had to scratch two words out as I wrote, “We are chosen for the purpose of obedience to
and through Christ.”
Now is the “and through” untrue? No. I can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15). And it is through the Spirit of God that I am empowered (Romans 8:13; Galatians 5). But in that moment God was instructing me that I must choose to obey. It is my responsibility to hear and obey: my choice, given me by God, to do so. As a result, as soon as I finished writing “obedience to and through Christ,” God caught my attention with “That is not what My word says,” and I had to scratch the “and through” to take responsibility for the “to do” I am called to.
Two: Another way we fail to do what we are told is through forgetfulness or by setting God’s instruction aside and ignoring it altogether. No matter how old I get, and even the older I get, the more prone to forgetfulness I am. How many times of late I have slapped my thigh with the words, “Man! I forgot.” I have to deliberately work to grasp hold on God’s instruction and choose to do it with determined conviction and deliberate effort to remember. I know that, from the earliest Bible days to now, I am not alone in this struggle, as Paul and Peter both often taught “by way of reminder, lest you forget.” And farther back still, God would have the patriarchs of faith set up altars of remembrance, so when they would see it, they and their children would be reminded of the ways of the Lord, what He did for them, and His instruction to them.
No matter how old we get in this life, we have to remember to take care, for “The young do not always do what they are told.” Like the child Nox and the SG1 team in episode 107, when we fail to hear and receive instruction, we very often get ourselves into a world of hurt that could be avoided if we would only listen with intent to put into practice the wisdom of those older and wiser: especially when that Older, Wiser One is God the Father.