Links Daily Devotional

All or Nothing

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10, ESV)

I know as well as you do that we should not believe everything we read. So I’m guessing I shouldn’t trust the teaser atop the cover of this month’s Golf Digest: “How to be the one who always wins.” What do you think?

We live, it has been noted, in a world where absolutes are commonly called into question.

Morally, we might ask if it is always wrong to lie. Are there circumstances that would justify stealing? Or why can’t we sleep with someone we love, even if we’re not married?

Theologically, the questions go deeper. We can say that God loves everyone. But how is this possible, some query, if he plans to send certain people to hell? Or, if God ordains justice, how can we also be urged to honor leaders who are far from just?

Such questions are not easy, because when we look at the way things seem to work in the world, we see nuances, imperfections, shades of grey. And many of the world’s philosophers have argued the same. “There cannot be easy divisions of black and white, no absolutes,” they tell us.

Yet here we are. A popular golf magazine tells us we can always win, quoting as their “experts” professional players who lost far more than they won. Genocide and terrorism victims take up the pledge of “never again” while just across the border the “again” does its most frightful work.

What does this tell us? For one, that those without hope in Christ hold out hope all the same. For another, that people really don’t mind absolutes, as long as they get to lay them out (plenty a liberal father who argues philosophically that there are no absolutes still sets a firm curfew for the young man escorting his teenage daughter!).

Those of us who look at the rights and wrongs of Scripture and say we must live by them are different in this central regard: we have transferred to the designer of the universe our right to lay out the absolutes. We trust that his insight into the way the world works is infinitely superior to our own, and we follow his instruction even when we cannot see the full sense of it.

We do not do this pridefully but humbly, for we read this absolute about our own treacherous selves: “The heart is incurably wicked.” Recognizing this, we concede that our only lasting hope is to allow him who searches our heart and examines our minds to cleanse them from unrighteousness.

This difference—choosing my own absolutes or letting God choose them for me—may look like one of those little subtleties, but it is the nuance that can change a life for eternity and therefore no nuance at all!

Jeff Hopper
August 6, 2013
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