A Closer Walk
"But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; They became stubborn and would not listen to Thy commandments. And they refused to listen, And did not remember Thy wondrous deeds which Thou hadst performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But Thou art a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness; And Thou didst not forsake them," Nehemiah 9:16-17 NASB.
This passage from the Old Testament book of Nehemiah illustrates vividly the differences between our God, and us as people. We are prone to stumble and stray; to be arrogant and stubborn. He is a God of forgiveness, and grace, and compassion. He is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. The Israelites had acted arrogantly. They became stubborn and would not listen to the Lord's commandments. They did not remember His wondrous deeds, which He had performed among them. So in their arrogance and stubbornness they decided it would be a good idea to appoint a leader to return them to their slavery in Egypt. Yet God did not pour out His wrath on them. Any of that sound familiar? Don't we sometimes do the same things?
We may act arrogantly. The dictionary defines arrogant as: “full of or due to unwarranted pride; haughty.” Arrogance is basically having a higher opinion of ourselves and our own importance than we should. We might be stubborn. The dictionary defines stubborn as: “refusing to yield or comply; obstinate.” Stubborn is basically refusing to do what we should do, or what we know to do. Like the Israelites, we may not completely listen to the Word of God, or might not follow His commandments. And depending on the person, we could occasionally be stubborn. It could be that we slide into these actions without making a deliberate decision to do so.
Arrogance and stubbornness could injure relationships with our families, friends, coworkers, or acquaintances. But even more importantly, they could injure our relationship with our Savior and Lord. Like the Israelites, we may forget the wondrous deeds that our Lord has performed for us; those times when our Lord took care of us, or provided for us. The Israelites apparently became so arrogant and stubborn that returning to their slavery in Egypt seemed like a good idea. Arrogance and stubbornness can lead us astray as well. We could even think it would be a good idea to return to some of our own former ways.
Our spiritual and life journey are often referred to as our "walk". That is an accurate description. We begin as "baby" Christians. As we move forward and gain age and experiences, we desire to grow in the Lord and gain knowledge, and hopefully wisdom, that we may draw on to help us through the various trials that we all encounter. These experiences would include walking with our God and learning about Him and His ways. Anyone's walk would also include stumbles; things we do or say that we wish we hadn't. But we are progressing down the path our Lord has for us, and at the same time, we are growing in our spiritual life and our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Throughout our lives there may be seasons when we, like the Israelites, might become arrogant or stubborn, or both. But our God will always be a forgiving God. He will be gracious and compassionate; slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. And no matter how many times we may stumble, or fall, or stray, “...He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you',” Hebrews 13:5 NASB. Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!