Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. (NIV)
“He, that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” (King James version)Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, if it's my time to go, there's nothing I can do about it." Usually they are discussing life and death, and expressing the opinion that no one can know for certain when it will happen. They may say it with a wry smile, yet it is a sobering thought.
There is a moment in time that is coming for each of us. A date with destiny, if you will. For Christians it will be a homecoming. For the unsaved, a day of reckoning. Many people avoid talking about these matters -- they are afraid they will "turn people off" and offend them. As Christians, though, we have a responsibility -- yes, a duty to talk about them.
As sinners, we certainly don't deserve to have a holy God speak to us. Yet, time and again, He will speak and reprove. Sometimes it is through His servants: pastors, teachers, and our friends. Sometimes it is through sermons or the scriptures; sometimes a situation can speak to us and draw us to Him. And especially winning is the Holy Spirit, in His efforts to draw us to Christ. When God speaks to us, do we consider it an option? A suggestion? Do we treat it that casually?
When you read that section "hardeneth his neck" what do you think of? I believe that Solomon was talking about stubborness, defiance, contempt, and even outright disobedience. No, no, that's not me . . . can't be me.
No? Has He whispered to us about a certain sin that we need to put away? Have we been procrastinating? "I'll do that tomorrow" we say. But can we be assured that there will be a tomorrow?
How about pride? When He speaks to us about that certain sin, do we repent, or do we look at others around us and think, "Well, even if I have this sin, I'm doing better than they are!"
How about pleasure? Are we "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God"? (II Tim. 3:4) Might we have to change our life-style to give up that sin? Oh, is it "too much" to give up? Well, the only things that God will ask us to give up, are things that hurt us. "No good things will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11)
If the things will make us holy, happy, healthy, and wholesome, He offers them and says "Take them, you are welcome." What we give up is nothing compared to what we will receive, and what we give up is also nothing compared to what Christ gave up, and what He endured.
The last portion of the verse says that change, that moment in time, is surely coming. For sinners, it will be sudden, and settled -- no way to go back and change. We must convey this message to the unsaved that we know . . . we want to see them in heaven!
For Christians, that moment in time will signal an end to the opportunity to have shed that sin, and to have received those blessings on earth that He had planned for us. Yes, we will be with Him in heaven.
But might we, because of our "hard necks," have missed a little of heaven on earth? Let's pray and ask the Spirit to point out the things that we need to change . . . let's open our arms to the blessings that He wants to give us here on earth.