By Chuck Williams
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Covington
Focal Passage: Hebrews 3:7-15
It’s the small decisions which can lead to great consequences. Recently as I was traveling on Interstate 40 I noticed a small turtle on the road to my right. It was easy for me to avoid him, but I knew the more progress he made the quicker his end. My thought, “Pretty soon you are gonna regret making that decision to cross the white line.”
The children of Israel couldn’t see the consequences ahead for them when they decided to ignore God’s direction for their lives. There are three results to be seen in this passage:
(1) God was angry with them. The writer reminds them that Israel had been led out of bondage in Egypt. God had shown Himself to be faithful to them by meeting their physical needs. They were so privileged yet they had become faithless in spite of His faithfulness. They had refused to obey the voice of the Lord. Needless to say, God was angry with them. The consequence for their disobedience was that they were to wander in the desert for 40 years. Over 600,000 Israelites died. The landscape was covered with graves.
When we refuse to obey the voice of the Lord, the result will be a desert-wandering mentality. God’s grace, blessing, and power never enter our life. There is no real rest that God has provided.
(2) Hearts will harden. A hardened heart is often unseen because it happens often so slowly. Like cholesterol in the veins it slowly builds a wall resisting the flow of blood, cutting off life. Here are three ways to harden the heart:
• Neglect. Just the simple neglect of spiritual disciplines will cause hardening. Clay is soft and pliable as long as it is being treated and kneaded. Once it is neglected and exposed it becomes brittle. Spiritual neglect never helps; it only hardens.
• Callousness. This occurs when skin is repeatedly rubbed. Openly allowing sin to rub against our lives will harden our heart to God’s voice. You would think the more we sin, the greater would be our awareness. Actually the opposite is true. Repeated exposure builds a false sense of security which can lead to damaging consequences.
• Burn. The example of a burned tree stump in the forest shows how the heart can become hardened. The first time a fire comes through the forest, the stump burns hot. Years later another fire comes through, and when it hits the stump, the stump burns but not quite as hot. Years later again when the forest fire comes to the stump, the fire will barely touch it as it moves on. Why is it that two people can go through the burn of affliction and trial and yet one will continue to love and trust God while the other is hardened and bitter? The difference is that one continued to seek the voice of the Lord and the other burned with bitterness.
(3) The last consequence would be that time runs out. One of the great tragedies is the illusion, “I have plenty of time. I can get back with the Lord later.” If we could view the time of our life as being sand pouring through an hour glass, it might cause us to become more faithful to the Lord. Instead we view time as the ticking hand on the clock. The hand never stops turning; but with the hour glass we can see the sand running out. Procrastination towards the Lord has never brought a soul closer to God.
Attitudes lead to actions. Watch out that your attitude is one of faith in Jesus Christ; otherwise your actions will reveal a heart drifting away.