by Dorette Saunders
Each time I read how the children of Israel, God’s people, renege on their promise to serve him, I recall how some cultures refer to this lapse in obedience as having “hard ears.” This is, of course, not to be confused with “hard of hearing” which is a physical or medical condition.
“Hard ears” implies that the person has heard the warning, rule, or instruction, but has intentionally chosen to ignore it. While the phrase is used mostly with children, it is equally applicable to adults.
Time and again when the prophet Moses was leading God’s people, he reminded them of God’s laws, and encouraged them to obey, in order to honor God, and thus avoid punishment. Further, he told them, “You know God’s laws, and it isn’t impossible to obey them. His commands aren’t in heaven…you know them by heart. All you have to do is obey!” (Deuteronomy 30:11-12, 14, CEV).
You would think that Moses’ words would spur the people to more consistent obedience. Instead, they would honor God for a little while, but promptly fall back into idolatry. Later, they would forget their response when Joshua asked them to choose which God they would worship.
The people answered: “We could never worship other gods or stop worshiping the LORD” (Joshua 24:16, CEV).
Why, then, did they turn their backs on God?
And still later, they would turn aside from the words of the prophet Micah:
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:8, NIV)
Before we think of recurring disobedience as an Old Testament problem, let’s look at our own country. Our community. Our family. Ourselves. Have we always hit the mark on justice, mercy, humility or obedience?
Quite honestly, the answer is “No.” In fact, Moses’ words “all you have to do is obey” is not so easy for many of us. We struggle with thinking the right thing, let alone doing the right thing.
What started off as “hard ears,” evolved into hard hearts, and it went downhill from there. We have heard the apostle Paul bemoan his lack of adherence to doing right.
“… I don't understand why I act the way I do. I don't do what I know is right. I do the things I hate” (Romans 7:15, CEV).
So what does it take for us to be obedient? Frankly, our love for God must override our earthly desires. We need to be transformed by renewing our minds. Only God’s Spirit working in us produces change. But we need to cooperate, too. For transformation to occur, we must watch what we feed our spirit.
Watch what we watch (Are you sure those movies are wholesome?); look where we walk (would you have trouble explaining why you are visiting a venue that others shun?); and guard our thoughts and our lips before we speak.
We need the light of the Savior in our lives and we need to shine that light so others may be led to him. The apostle John says: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out” (John 1:5, GNT). Pray that we will never allow our disobedience to dull our witness. Pray that our ears will always be receptive to God’s voice, and our hearts open to his Word.
PRAYER: Lord God, I desperately want to be who you have called me to be. Help me to be humble and obedient. Let me be one who practices mercy and compassion in all its many forms. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.