Journal Entry // July 4, 2022
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (ESV)Judges 21:25
Judges is a tough read. It speaks about events and customs that so utterly foreign to these modern ears and New Testament understandings. The stories seem so brutal and lacking in compassion. I was a fair bit behind on my reading plan, so I spent my time this morning just catching up and finishing the book of Judges. It was interesting to read these stories in succession and see the way the people of God had devolved and seemingly cared for their own selves and those things they deemed important. Truly this last verse in the book of Judges is the perfect summary of that time. I read through this and I feel my heart aching for those being abused and I have my soul vexed by the disregard of all things holy. As I sit and ponder what I just read, I come to understand that this is my heart. This is the bent of my crooked heart. That I too could easily find myself like the people in this book when I take my eyes off Jesus and begin to do what is right in my own eyes.
I don’t think the takeaway from this is that I need to just listen to my leaders and check my heart against what other fellow believers are saying and doing or teaching. I think that can be helpful and I know God truly does use his leaders and followers to speak his truth into my life at specific key moments. But this too can be taken to only prove the truth of this verse. I can and have disregarded the truth of God’s word being spoken to me because my heart wasn’t willing or able to hear it. It was easy to hear the truth being spoken and disregard it because of my plethora of reasons and rationale. It was easy to disregard because I justified my own knowledge and experience over the truth being spoken. Or I marginalized the speaker because I disagreed with his choices and application of God’s truth. So in response, I just seek out speakers and teachers and leaders who tell me exactly what I want to hear or keep repeating the same understanding I already have. I turn a deaf ear to challenge and debate and simply stay in a zone that is comfortable and safe.
This sounds good to a degree, right. Stay in the comfort zone of truth. But what if that truth is wrong. What if I am doing what is right in my own eyes and only seek out teachers that reaffirm this misguided understanding? What if the “right in my own eyes” is disobedience to the Lord? What if I am in sin, yet only keep reinforcing the sin? I need to be challenged and be open to being challenged. I need to be able to see all sides of the discussion and truly understand what the Word of God is saying. His Word is truth and he wants his word to be understood and obeyed. There is no trick here. God has given me his Word and his Spirit.
So how do I not get caught stuck in the gutter of sin, but think I am on the road of righteousness. I need to invite criticism and I need to be relentlessly open and honest with myself and with the Lord. I need to never just sit back and believe I have it all figured out. I need humility and compassion. I need prayer. I need deep abiding intimate prayer with the Lord. I need to cry out each and every day for the Lord to keep me safe on his path of righteousness. That my wayward heart will not lead me astray, but that I will keep my life in check through the Word of God, the preaching of his Word, the study of his Word, the fellowship of his Word. I need to not keep it all in my own head. I need to discuss and share openly and honestly with my trusted friends. I need to listen to them. I need to be patient and kind. I need to reflective. I need to above all else share my heart with Jesus. He will lead and guide me. He will show me what is good and right, even if my eyes do not readily see it.