My youngest son and Boy Scout, Jason, was just awarded the last merit badge required to finish his Eagle rank. All that is left for him to do is finish up his Eagle project, which is a community service job of approximately 100 man hours that the Eagle candidate is supposed plan, organize and supervise to completion.
Jason’s specific project is to pour concrete footings and set in place five benches at a local church sponsored Christian softball complex. So this past Saturday, he (along with several adult and scout volunteers) went out to dig holes, set forms, then mix and pour the concrete. (Later, when it has cured out well enough, they will return to set and anchor the benches in place.)
But, once the concrete is mixed, they have to work quickly to fill the holes and dress out the top to make it look neat and clean because the longer they wait, the harder the mixture becomes and the more difficult it is to make changes.
You know, moving with rapid and decisive action is a good thing for Christians as well. While there are definitely times when waiting is called for (Ps. 27:14), as followers of Jesus, we need to learn to cultivate a lifestyle of quick obedience… because hesitation often leads to inaction… and inaction cements us in place, limiting how close we can get to the Lord, how much He can use us, and how well we can hear from Him. The biggest consequence of moving too slowly in responding to the Holy Spirit’s promptings is that our choices solidify with time and as they set in place, it becomes more and more difficult to make changes.
Jesus identified this condition as a ‘hard heart’ which, he indicated, renders a person spiritually unable to see, unable to understand, unable to hear and unable to remember. (Mark 8:17-18)
Many years ago I heard a pastor clarify it succinctly by saying that a hard heart results from “over-exposure and under response to the truth.” That is, believers in this state are those who have heard God’s message over and over, but don’t act quickly to do anything with it in their lives. The real danger emerges when continual resistance to God’s movements, deadens our sensitivity and creates the frightful state of being unable to discern between right and wrong. As this resistance to the things of God settles into our spiritual outlook and remains undisturbed, it’s as if a hard layer forms around our hearts and we’re less able to be receptive to God’s Spirit speaking through it.
We like to justify our inaction by ignoring what we know is right, putting obedience off until ‘later’, or trying to compensate by doing other good deeds, but James cuts through all the excuses with a stern warning in 4:17 – “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
Read that verse again carefully. James is telling us that when we know what to do, and don’t do it, it’s sin. And sin always has consequences. Always. (Gal. 6:7)
That’s why all believers could learn a good lesson from Jason’s project. When God speaks through His Word, a teacher or pastor, or in some other way, we need to be quick to act, so that our hearts remain moldable, pliable, and our eyes are open and ears sensitive to the still, small voice of God. (1 Kings 19:12)