Written by Becca Harris.
I’m going to let you in on a secret: I am terrible at confrontation, especially when I have to say no to something.
Often when someone asks me: “Hey, are you guys free on Saturday?”, instead of declining (like a normal person) because I know we have plans, I say something like, “Oh, I think that could work! I’ll check with my husband and have him let you know.” Because it’s easier to say yes in the moment and look like the good guy, then have my husband do the letting down later.
In Matthew 21:28-30 there is a parable of two sons. One of them is like me.
“But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.”
I’m sure you can figure out which son I would be. But really, which son would any of us be? How many times in our lives has God asked us to do something and we have agreed, then not actually done that thing? It might be that God asks us to give up a particular sin, to which we respond “Of course!” only to find ourselves falling back into it.
It could also be the reverse where we say: “Tell me where to go Lord and I will go!” only to get an answer we don’t like and quickly change our mind. It’s like professing: “I will praise You in this storm…” then proceeding to sulk and doubt instead. Our words might sound good, but God knows the heart behind them. Faith without works is dead, and words without action are nothing but empty promises.
This happens more than we would like because we know the right things to say. We know how to deflect responsibility, as I do with making plans. But what about the first son’s response? Is it better to just defy God in the first place? I think the key here is the son overcoming his initial posture of defiance. Even though his answer isn’t great, at least it’s honest.
It would be like us saying, “God, it’s hard for me to praise You in this storm right now.” Is it great? Maybe not but it’s honest, and God knows our hearts anyway. That place of honesty leaves an opening for a repentant heart to change its mind, ask forgiveness, and try again.
God knows our hearts but still desires our honesty. He can handle the messy in-between while we’re still working things out in our hearts and minds. Let’s not just say the right feel-good thing at the moment- let’s do the right thing for the long haul.