Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What Melts Your Heart Like Water?


What melts your heart like water?

When I ran across this phrase in the Bible I was intrigued. It’s one of those passages I had read before but never really stopped to contemplate this phrase. Imagine my surprise when I realized this passage is really about keeping your agreements.

To examine the phrase I looked at other passages where someone’s heart melted, once again like water, a third time like wax.

A curious phrase to be sure. In Joshua, where I first ran across the phrase, the army of Israel was taking the Promised Land. They had won a victory. In the victory, though, God had warned them not to take any plunder from the enemy and to burn everything. All of Israel agreed to this.

One man, out of the multiple thousands, did not keep his agreement. He took some loot and buried it. No one knew but God and Achen.

The next battle was a dismal disappointment. For a nation riding high on victory, backed by the promise of God that they could not fail, sending 3,000 men (a small portion of their army) up against what their spies had said was an easy victory and coming back defeated was as if God slapped them in the face.

The response of the entire nation was one of total despair, discouragement and depression. “At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water” (Joshua 7:5, NIV). Joshua led by God confronts Achan who admits to his sin. Achan. His family, all his livestock and possessions are destroyed.

A terrible punishment for a little sin, you say? Greed, don’t we all have it? Should we all die for this breach? A couple things come to mind about that. We all will face consequences for our desires that do not include God. God makes it clear in this situation that Achan chose his path. He agreed with the rest of the people to what God directed and then he willfully chose to violate that agreement. The result of his disobedience was swift and sure. The result of ours sometimes lingers for a lifetime.

Ezekiel warns the people that because of their disobedience, God will turn his back on them. When that happens, “Every heart will melt and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every knee become as weak as water” (Ezekiel 21:7).

David is afraid God has turned his back on him. He says, “I am poured out like water, and my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.” (Psalm 22:14).

As the Psalm progresses, though, David remembers the ways God has worked in his life and how his strength comes from God. In verse 25, he declares that he will fulfill his vows. Not only as an agreement between him and God, but before the people as well.

What melted hearts like water and wax in these three instances? The knowledge that they had not kept their agreements with the God of the universe.

I have to admit, just thinking about the ways I have not kept my agreements with God, turns my heart to water. Vowing again to keep them is intimidating in itself. I am reminded, though, of the ways God has worked in my life. He has kept his promises to me. As a matter of fact, he sent his son to die a hideous death because he knew I, like Achan, could not keep my all of my promises to him.

Christ’s death on the cross, though, is not an excuse to ignore my agreements. It is even more of a reason to keep them.

The Apostle Paul explains it this way: “Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Cor. 5:13-15, NIV).

He goes on to say that the way to keep your agreement with Christ is to unite with him. “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Cor 5:17, NLT).

This would be a great place to end this article on the upbeat. But anyone who has been a Christian for awhile knows that following Christ is not a simple matter even though we are living a new life and have the Spirit of God within us. Paul goes on to tell us 2 Cor. 6 of all the things he has endured. You can see the list there in short he says he has endured troubles, hardships and calamities of every kind.

There will certainly be tests of your faith, tests of how well you are keeping your agreements with the Spirit of God Almighty who, by the way, knows if you are or not.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5, NIV). And that, my friend, would melt my heart . . . like water.

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