Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Jeremiah 14:7-9 -- On Beyond Honesty

"O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.
O the hope of Israel, the saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night?
Why shouldest thou be as a man astonied, as a mighty man that cannot save? yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not."
Jeremiah 14:7-9

These are some interesting verses.  I like that in them, Jeremiah prays honestly.  He lays it out before God.  Yes, we've done lots of bad things and turned again and again and again to our bad habits.  But, he continues, God... you are the hope of Israel.  Why be a stranger to us?  Why would you walk away and make it look like you don't care about your own people?  Don't leave us.
Interestingly, as convincing as that may have been, God responds after these verses by saying no.  He won't save them.  He will remember their iniquity.
So, what does this say to us?  I think maybe that we need more than honest admission of guilt.  We can't just say, yeah, we're sinners, and you're God.  Save us anyway.  I think that life requires a little bit more from us.  If we want a different outcome in our lives, and if we want God to change the way that he deals with us... we *have* to change.  We don't want to, I know.  We want to do whatever the crap we feel like and have God save us anyway, in his mercy.  But as we learn right here in Jeremiah, it isn't enough.  We can realize the problems that we've made of our lives.  We can admit to all of it, and confess everything.  This is good... but it only a first step.  We then have to change.  We have to make it better... heal it.  We can't just sit there and expect God to do it for us.  I think so often in the gospel we get into some mentality where we think all we have to do is be honest with God, and then he'll take care of everything.  And I am totally not knocking honesty.  That is a huge lesson, and it takes bravery.  Confession and self-knowledge are both important.  Honesty by itself, though, isn't enough.  Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah... they were faced with the truth, and when they were, they went out to do something about it.  They saw clearly the problems they had caused, but they also knew they had to create solutions.  None of it, of course, is done without God's help... but help is different than just standing still expecting him to solve it all for us.  We have to actually learn.
Today, instead of thinking "that's just the way I am," let's actually consider if that is the way we want to stay.  When we talk to God about our lives, let's not just admit that we are sinners... which is absolutely true... but let's determine to do something about it, and tell him our plans in that regard.  Let's work with God to change who we are, and become something better.  Let's get God to help us plan some repairs and strengthening, rather than asking him to save us forever with our flaws and our weakness.  We need to move beyond plain honesty, and put in some honest effort.

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