A part of our curriculum covers integrity. We talk about what that means: doing the right thing even when no one is watching. We should all want to be people of integrity. After all, no one wants to be the villain right?
Then why are there so many people in this world that seem to lack integrity and morals? I'm sure you can all think of someone or multiple people that you know who have gone their own way without regard to other people. They follow the lusts and sinful desires of their hearts, hurting those around them as well as themselves.
I truly believe those people are the ones who have chosen to self-engineer their paths instead of following the path the Lord has laid before us. Some of those people may not even realize this is what they are doing...but in the end, there are only two paths: your own or the Lord's.
11 But My people did not listen to My voice,
And Israel did not obey Me.
12 So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart,
To walk in their own devices.
13 Oh that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
14 I would quickly subdue their enemies
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
15 Those who hate the Lord would pretend obedience to Him,
And their time of punishment would be forever.
16 But I would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
And with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.
We have all heard the poem by Robert Frost:
...Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - / I took the one less traveled by, / and that has made all the difference.
We are all standing before those two roads in the woods. And we have to make a choice. Do we go the way of the world and follow our selfish desires or do we take God's road, the one less traveled?
Let's take a look at the two different roads, shall we?
To take God's path means we 'hearken' to His word. In other words, we listen and obey. Much like Israel, we hear God's voice as no other people (Henry). His word is at our fingertips and we are allowed to read it, study it, and talk about it without any repercussion. Isn't that amazing!?! His word is His will and "The highest blessedness of man is to have a will submissive to God's will, and to carry out that submission in all details of life" (Expositor's). Let's focus on what listening to those words and choosing God's path and will means for us. As verse 14 states, He would quickly subdue our enemies and adversaries. Verse 16 goes on to say that He would feed us with the finest of the wheat and with honey from the rock He would satisfy us.
The finest of wheat? Translate that to mean the best of the best. When we listen to Him and obey what He commands, we will have access to the best of the best. But what about the honey from the rock? That isn't even possible. You're right. It isn't! But God doesn't work in the realm of the possible. He works in the realm of the impossible! When we read the words 'and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you' what we are to hear is something closer to this: you will no longer be "on the ground of the actual, but of the ideal...the expression is [one] for incomparable abundance" (Expositor's). Did you catch that? If we listen and obey we will be living the ideal, a world of incomparable abundance!!
But that isn't where it ends! God is so incredibly amazing! God is the definition of patience. When we are striving to listen & obey, we sometimes fall off the wagon. In those times, He has the most amazing "restraining grace" (Wesley). He has every right to destroy us, but He restrains and give us grace - "His grace is His own...and He never gave His grace to any that could say they deserved it" (Henry). Do you think you deserve His restraining grace? I know I don't! But He gives it anyways!!
Why does God want us to serve Him? God "delights in our serving Him, not because He is the better for it, but because we shall be" (Henry). God has so many promises for us inside of His will, along His path... His word clearly expresses those. And His word never fails!
So if His word doesn't fail, what does? We do. We fail by choosing to go our own path instead of the Lord's. When Scripture says that the Lord "gave them over" (vs. 12), it simply means that He let them go. He let them go their own way instead of forcing them into His will. And "when they were delivered up to their own lusts; that is worse than being give up to Satan, which may be [for] reformation (1 Tim. 1:20)...but to be delivered up to their own hearts' lusts is to be sealed under condemnation" (Henry).
God does the same with us. If we abuse His grace, if we think His grace will be there even though we choose to ignore His commands and His will, if we take His voice for granted and it becomes just noise in the background that we don't even listen to, then we have chosen to follow our own path. God will let us go our own way. Unfortunately for us, "There is no worse fate for a man than to be allowed to do as he chooses" for "it is sin that makes our troubles long and our salvation slow" (Expositor's, Henry).
So you see, just as God never gives His grace to anyone that deserves it, "He never took it away from any but [those who had] first forfeited it" (Henry). It is a tight rope we walk when we choose to follow our own path. Eventually God's grace won't be ours for the taking any more.
I will leave you with this quote for the Expositor's Commentary that wraps it up pretty neatly:
"Self-engineered paths are always hard, and, if pursued to the end, lead into the dark. The listening heart will not lack guidance, and obedient feet will find God's way the way of peace which steadily climbs to unfading light."Are you heading into the dark or are you climbing towards the light?
|God's Path or Your Own?|