Indeed, we have the Word of God – His instructions, but also the dictation of His love toward us – and yet we don’t listen because of our pride. We wouldn’t ever say it, but every time we go our own way rather than following the Word, we declare by our lives that we think we are wiser than God. That is the epitome of arrogance and we would do well to eliminate that from our lives. Unfortunately, we usually don’t even see the problem. For this reason, we should echo the Psalmist’s prayer, “Search me O God ….see if there be any wicked way in me.” Then and only then can we eradicate the pride that causes us to go our own way, and listen to the God of the universe.
How many times growing up did we know better than our parents? Our parents, with their time-earned wisdom would give us instructions or advice, but we just knew that they didn’t know what they were talking about. Then, whether it was right away, or somewhere down the line, we found out that, sure enough, they knew what they were talking about after all. In fact, sometimes we even find ourselves echoing their very words when instructing the next generation! If only we had listened, maybe we wouldn’t have made some of the foolish errors of our youth. Undoubtedly, our parents have wanted, at times, to shout, “I TOLD YOU!!!”
Paul probably felt the same way on his voyage to Rome. As they journeyed, there was a stopping point in a place called “The Fair Havens.” Sounds like a good place to stop, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it was not a good place to stay the winter, and it was already late fall. Autumn and winter are the seasons for the hurricane-like storms on the Mediterranean Sea. So the options are, 1) stay in a place that is not very conducive to winter stays, or 2) head out into the sea and hope you don’t get caught in a storm. Paul advised the centurion who was in charge of transporting the prisoners that he felt there would be catastrophic results if they continued on. The captain of the ship, however, certainly wanting to make a profit as quickly as possible, countered that the winds were calm and it wouldn’t be a problem. Faced with the word of an experienced sailor against one of his prisoners, the centurion logically sided with the captain. Unfortunately, everything Paul said would happen came true.
Jeremiah’s case went even further. When he told King Zedekiah that the Chaldeans would return to fight against Jerusalem, not only was he ignored, but he was even imprisoned for his counsel. The joy of vindication (chapter 39) would be tempered by the sorrow of seeing Jerusalem fall into the hand of the Babylonians. (In the following chapter, Zedekiah does want to heed Jeremiah’s warning, albeit out of a self-preserving fear.)
Ruth, however, sets a good example of listening to advice. Rather than brushing of her mother-in-law as a bitter old woman, Ruth does exactly as she is told, and boy does it work out well! Not only does she find sufficient food to sustain the two of them, and enough to make them thrive, she finds a provider that God sovereignly appointed. And if that weren’t enough, she follows Naomi’s further instructions and ends up getting to marry that provider (chapter 3).
So why are we disinclined to listen to God’s instructions? Why do we insist that we know better than He does? Why are we so stubborn that, even when we know it’s probably not going to go well, we go our own way? Psalm 10:4-6 answer that for us. “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity.”