Life is not destined to carry on as it is now. Some things we can control and some we cannot. The worst thing we can do is resign ourselves to poor life circumstances. In our finances, many people will believe that they will always have a car payment or a credit card balance. How many people do we know that have said they will always be fat, so why bother trying to stay fit? Some believe that they are just destined to not be knowledgeable in any given area of study. How many people would like to draw near to God yet they do not spend time with God in either His word or in prayer? It is easy to give up hope when we do not have faith. In Proverbs 29:18 we read: Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained. This means that they do not see a purpose in what they do, they have no hope, and so they do not discipline themselves.
In terms of the finances, many Americans do not have a plan to pay down the debt, but having no debt is very liberating. If you can devise a plan, you can start to see small amounts of hope which will lend to greater discipline, which will increase motivation to follow the plan, which will show greater results, and then you can realize a life without car payments or credit cards. The same can be said about our weight. We eat way too much, but we also tend to eat the wrong things in this country. Chronic diseases have become the norm but the solution is usually simple and with a plan, we can see the results, get motivated, and the cycle continues. These are both practical western ideas, but they are tangible enough for us to see how hope increases our discipline. With regards to our future life, Paul observes that if there is no resurrection, than we should simply eat, drink, and be merry, for this life is all there is (1 Corinthians 15:32). Many Christians today in affluent America live with assumptions about our physical and spiritual world. Many people are not living in faith, but are instead living for their pleasure. Paul did not make up his proverb, it is actually taken from a few different Old Testament passages.
Isaiah prophesied many messages, but one that was sent to Jerusalem where God calls on His people to mourn:
Therefore in that day the Lord God of hosts called you to weeping, to wailing, To shaving the head and to wearing sackcloth (22:12).
But the people were not mourning, they were not looking ahead, they were not following the laws that He gave through Moses, they were engaged in partying:
Instead, there is gaiety and gladness, Killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep, Eating of meat and drinking of wine: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die (22:13).”
And then God revealed how He was going to handle this rebellious people:
But the Lord of hosts revealed Himself to me, “Surely this iniquity shall not be forgiven you Until you die,” says the Lord God of hosts (22:14).
The problem is that the people have heard messages and prophecies before but have fallen into the belief that those prophecies are not for them, or not real, or will simply happen way to late to be a consequence for them. This is evidenced by a direct challenge God gives about this statement. The people started to say, “The days are long and every vision fails (Ezekiel 12:22).” The people were living their life in a way that felt good because all of the doomsday speakers (God’s prophets) seemed to be giving a message that tarried. John Calvin wrote about this proverb:
We perceive then how unbelievers turn the patience of God into material for obduracy and stupidity. God spares them, gives them leisure, and invites them to repentance; but what do they do? They count the days and years, and when they see that God does not immediately, execute the judgment which he had uttered by his servants, they laugh at it, and esteem the Prophet’s words as idle fables (John Calvin’s Commentary on Ezekiel Volume 1).
This belief that God’s message is either irrelevant or false did not end in the time of Ezekiel, but Peter practically says the same thing:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. (2 Peter 2:3-4)”
People have denied the prophets call to repentance in the times before Jesus, and we all know now, the same continues in our age. I hope that we will learn from what God declared through Ezekiel next:
I will make this proverb cease so that they will no longer use it as a proverb in Israel.” But tell them, “The days draw near as well as the fulfillment of every vision. For there will no longer be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I the Lord will speak, and whatever word I speak will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, for in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it,” declares the Lord God.’ (Ezekiel 12:22-25)”
We have here both an Old Testament and a New Testament call to repentance. Let us repent of our time-wasting through popular and electronic media so we can prioritize some time with God. Let us repent of our church-growth methodology and go back to walking by faith and not by sight. Let us prioritize our physical world: health, money, time, so that we can glorify God at all times. Let us live intentionally. Jesus does call us as we are, but He never expects us to stay there, and we all come to Him with various aspects of our life in shambles.
We are not always bound to our physical circumstances, and we are not always bound to our spiritual circumstances. But it all boils down to living an intentional life, one that will bring glory to God in all that we do, whether that is in our health, our studies, our finances (on the physical side) or even more importantly, on our sanctification through study, prayer, and humble, Christ-centered fellowship. Let us not resign ourselves to a life of mediocrity but instead step out in faith and live a full life giving ultimate glory to God.