While the Iron is Hot
Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
“ Today if you hear His voice,
DO not harden your hearts, as when they provoked ME.” (Hebrews 3:12-15 NASB)
What is the value of a day? I guess it would depend on the day, but anyone who has found themselves on the wrong side of time and chance, as I’m sure we all have, almost certainly knows what it’s like to wish for just one more day. Maybe it’s one more day to right a wrong that destroyed a trust, or one more day with someone whose absence can be felt to the core of our very being. Or maybe it’s not the day that we lament, but rather the moment that we wish we could take back. A word spoken in haste that hurt more than we anticipated, a moment of selfishness that tarnished a reputation, a moment of weakness that destroyed the trust of a parent or spouse; these are the moments that speak to us because in some ways our regrets define our sense of self.
That’s why an idiom like “strike while the iron is hot” is seared into the collective consciousness. I know no blacksmiths myself, but there isn’t a single person who is old enough to be accountable for their actions that does not understand the sentiment. We see the image in our heads. The red-hot billet, pulled fresh from the flame laid upon the anvil, and the hammer that crashes upon it drawing it out and shaping it to the will of the smithy. His work is quick and must be, or else back to the kiln it must go until the moment it is again hot.
For all the things in life that pretend at true urgency and bellow with tyrannical need, very few actually are of any real significance. Yet it is this seemingly unending stream of urgent needs that Satan uses to hide those things that are truly worthy and even needful of our attention.
I would direct your attention to the passage we began with. (Hebrews 3:12-15) Is there no urgency in the sentiment of brotherly encouragement? Or in 2nd Peter chapter 1 and verse 5 where he urges them to give diligence to the task of growing their faith. We see urgency by the Apostle Paul when he beseeched the church in Rome (Romans 12:1-3) by the mercies of God to be transformed in renewing their minds, and to present their bodies as living sacrifices. It is there again in the 13 chapter of the same epistle (Romans 13:10-14) when he urges them to consider that the hour of their salvation is nearer than when they first believed.
With so many beggarly things pretending at importance is it any wonder that we become distracted. But this is not the moment for laments and commiserations over the difficulty of our walk. Now is the time for us to make some tough choices.
Who are you?
14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord (YHVH) and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
(Joshua 24:14-15 NASB)
The trouble with Joshua’s words is that we have read them too often, but we’ve not read them deeply. This is not the carpe diem of scripture. Instead he is telling them what it means to truly be the people of God. The relationship of God to His people is not one of mere convenience; it’s one of conviction based on love, fear, trust, and obedience.
Fear Jehovah and serve Him in sincerity and truth. Sincerity comes from the heart of a man and Truth comes from the Lord, but any obedience must begin with deciding who we are. We cannot obey God if we do not fear Him first. Fear Him to the putting away of those things that would define us as something other than His people. And while we do not believe ourselves to be those who serve other gods we need to ask whether or not our actions say otherwise.
The one who fears God does not take what belongs to the Lord. (Romans 12:1-3) By our choices, our language, our behavior do people see in us the image of one who is in complete and total surrender to his God, or are we still serving those gods that we bowed before on the other side of the watery grave of baptism?
Whatever else or whoever else we are, we must be those who live as citizens of Heaven. (Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 10:36, Hebrews 11:13-16) If we can lead by no other means we can lead by example, and rest assured the eyes are watching. Our spouses, our children, the world around us they see our behavior. They see what we value, and it may well be that the only one fooled about the god that they serve is you and me.
We must ask ourselves, and honestly so, when did honoring God become giving the best of what’s left over? What are we saying if we do not live in sacrifice so that others see that we truly do fear God? Do our actions look like those who have hope fully vested in God’s eternal kingdom and in the blood of Christ?
Brothers and sisters it is time once again to put away the foreign gods that are in the camp, and we must do it while it is still called today. Whatever hinders your example and obedience, for the sake of your very soul, put it down and never pick it up again.