The waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them;but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm- Proverbs 1:32-33 NIV
The pages of Scripture are filled with uplifting, encouraging and inspirational verses.
We eat that stuff up.
We put those verses on tee-shirts, paint them on walls, embroider them onto throw pillows and turn them into magnets to slap on our refrigerators. Passages like Psalm 23:1-4 and Deuteronomy 31:8-9 are the warm-fuzzies of Scripture. Reading them is like drinking a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day. It just feels good. The feel-good verses are our go-to’s anytime we want a warm comforting cup of spiritual goodness.
To be fair:
There are also some scripture passages that hit more like a bucket of icy cold water thrown on us in the middle of a dead sleep. No one has ever put Matthew 7:21-23 or Jude 14-16 on a tee-shirt. Nor do emotionally healthy people paint those verses on their walls. We all know this world is full of trouble but nobody wants to wear it on a tee-shirt or be reminded every time they step into their living room.
Those icy-cold water kinds of verses do serve a critical purpose. The hard words of Scripture remind us God is more than our own personal blessing machine and that we exist for Him, not the other way around (Acts 17:24-28). Scary verses make us think about our spiritual walk and remind us to examine ourselves. No one is ever mature enough or righteous enough to grow past needing those reminders.
Hebrews 12:25 is one of those icy-cold water verses that immediately snaps us to attention. It’s says:
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks.
Part of what makes this verse scary is all the stuff that surrounds it. The better of Hebrews twelve is a reminder God is the biggest of big deals and not to be trifled with.
Christians understand how God communicates. He communicates most clearly and most often through His word. He also speaks through wise people and the circumstances of our lives. Anytime we hear the same thing repeatedly from different people we should assume God is attempting to get our attention. Hardship and trouble in our relationships, finances and work are another way God communicates with us. Anytime we humble ourselves, self-reflect and pray we are opening ourselves to be led by the God’s spirit.
Refusing God comes in many different forms and even good Christians refuse God sometimes. Christians refuse God anytime we shut off some part of our lives to God or when we willfully choose to do the opposite of what we know He wants us to do. There are five primary ways we refuse God. Each is an easy trap to fall into (Ephesians 4:16-17).
We refuse God when we hide sin rather than confess and repent of sin. Sin must be dealt with decisively. There is simply no other way except confession and repentance to effectively get free of the effects of willful disobedience (Matthew 3:8, Acts 2:38, James 5:16, Psalm 32:5, Psalm 38:18, Ezra 10:1). When we refuse to confess and repent of our sin, we are basically telling God through our actions we believe He’s wrong about the whole subject of what sin is.
We refuse God when refuse the correction he brings into our lives (Proverbs 12:1). No one gets it right every time. We behave stupidly, make mistakes and do the wrong thing from time-to-time. God frequently uses the rebukes of other people to speak to us about the rightness and wrongness of our choices. When we ignore Him, we risk being turned over to the consequences of our choices. This is never a pleasant experience (Romans 1:18-32, Acts 7:42-43).
We refuse God when we make judgments about other people without clear understanding of their situation (Job 38:2). There is little God hates more than when one-person judges another without taking the time to hear their story (Proverbs 18:17, Matthew 7:1-5). Making ill-informed judgments about people and situations means we think we are too wise to consult God or others. Not good.
We refuse God when we refuse to forgive others. If forgiving other people is a perquisite for being forgiven, and it is, then refusing to forgive someone else is pretty much the ultimate in refusing God. Refusing to forgive is also the fast track to all kinds of spiritual trouble (Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:34-35, Luke 17:4).
We refuse God when we refuse to grow and change. The Christian life is a life of transformation and growth (Romans 12:1-21). No one ever matures past the need for change. When we refuse the changes God wants to make in our attitudes, opinions or behavior we refuse God and stunt our own spiritual development (Hebrews 5:11-14).
Here’s the thing about refusing God:
Anytime we willfully refuse God we run the risk of what the writer of Hebrews calls “falling short of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15). Falling short of God’s grace means we voluntarily forgo the blessing and peace that being in right relationship with God brings. Furthermore, we risk cursing ourselves and our generational line through our willful disobedience.
No one sane wants that.