Laying a Solid Foundation
Check out these thoughts from Tom Flaherty, a pastor at one of our sister churches in Madison, WI, as we begin the season of Lent today. This has some timely thoughts for the season and is very connected to what we've been going through in Hebrews:
“Let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation
of repentance from dead works…” Hebrews 6:1
On August 1, 2007, a bridge in Minneapolis that crossed the Mississippi river collapsed killing 13 and injuring 145. The irony was that work was being done on the bridge at the time of the collapse, but it was the wrong work. One article summed up the types of things that were being done: “The construction taking place in the weeks prior to the collapse included replacing lighting, and guard rails. At the time of the collapse, four of the eight lanes were closed for resurfacing.” Because the foundational work was left undone, all the other work proved to be in vain. This is how it is in a Christianity that lacks repentance. It doesn’t matter how much we do, if we haven’t really repented and aren’t living a life of repentance, all our works are dead in God’s sight.
Hebrews 3:7-8; 3:15 and 4:7 all say the same thing: “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Repentance is not possible until God speaks to us. He can speak through His word as we read it, or through a preacher at church, or by a dream or vision in the night, or through an honest friend, or in difficult circumstances. God has lots of ways to speak to us when He wants to get our attention.
When God speaks we need to agree with Him. David said, “Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak” (Psalm 51:4). When we agree with what God says we justify Him; when we defend ourselves by making excuses for what we did, we justify ourselves. Hardening your heart toward God can actually mean softening your heart toward you by giving yourself unwarranted and unsanctified mercy for evil you have said, thought, or done. “It wasn’t that bad,” “he had it coming,” “I only spoke the truth,” “I was tired,” “Yeah, but she did that wrong thing first,” are just a few excuses that quickly come into our hearts when we seek to justify ourselves.
Let’s not live resurfacing the bridge when what it needs is foundation work. Rather, let’s each take time to seek our hearts and fully repent. Isaiah 30:15 gives the blessing that will result, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.”