Have you ever heard your pastor say, “Sometimes my job is to comfort the afflicted, and sometimes to afflict the comfortable!”? They must have gotten that from the prophet Jeremiah. You talk about someone who didn’t mince words, Jeremiah is that guy! His was a distinctive voice often calling for repentance. An illustration of this is in the seventh chapter of his book. “Amend your ways and your doings,” he said in 7.3.
The “ways” of Judah had gotten so bad that God told Jeremiah not to bother praying for them because He would refuse to answer him [7.16]. What were they? Well, they broke God’s commandments, offered incense to Ba-al, got cozy with false gods, then stood in the house of the Lord and talked about how they had been delivered by God from these things. Jeremiah would have none of that.
I’m no Jeremiah, believe me! But his reality check should be considered by all of us. Let me put it in New Testament speak: Don’t hide behind the grace of God and continue to live in secret sin. Don’t boast, I am a Christian; God loves me; I fear no evil, then, go out and do all kinds of evil! The author of Hebrews tells us why, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” [12.28-29].
Harsh words? Perhaps, but like a good medicine, they are curative. Rather than walking away from them, let them have their healing effect.
“Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations?’ Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD. Jeremiah 7.9-10