This is part 4 of my “Reluctant Obedient” devotional series.
The reluctant obedient can’t stay the reluctant obedient. Neither God nor his nature will allow him to remain in such a position forever. Something – or better said – Someone will eventually win out.
There comes a crisis point. A fork in the road.
However, that is a bit of a misnomer itself. Truth is under the guise of ‘normalcy’ there is a working a slow, methodical process that is changing the Reluctant Obedient into someone else. It’s actually an incredibly slow process that will be revealed in a crisis point, a fork in the road.
If the Reluctant doesn’t eventually surrender to the Spirit at work in him and instead decides to trust his own voice or the world around him, he will eventually discover that he is no longer the Reluctant Obedient but is in fact the Justifying Delinquent. These are people with incredible insight and intelligence, leveraging those to justifying their disobedience.
They can be pleasant or irritating – that really has little to do with it. The larger point is that there are huge areas of sin, disobedience in their life and they have an explanation as to why that is and why it is not as offensive as you’d might think.
‘I’m just a blunt person. That’s how I am wired.’ The excuse of our personality for sinful, ungracious behavior is as old as time. What should come out of their mouth is instead – I’m a critical person that desperately needs the grace of Christ to change my mind and tongue.
‘We are going to be married anyway. We are married in the eyes of God.’ When what we should hear instead is – my lust and desire for sexual pleasure is what I listen to more than the direct words of God. I desperately need the strength and wisdom of Christ for this.
‘I can’t afford to … give/serve/attend church/be in connect Group’ The Justifiable looks for ways to say “NO” to God and growing up. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy, not enough… whatever – is always the case. When instead we should hear – “I can’t believe I GET to be a part of this story!”
And therein lies the complete irony of the Justifying Delinquent. In an effort to maintain their identity, their sense of self by NOT giving in to God – they completely lose it. They settle for a darker, less alive version of a shadow of who they were meant to be. They find themselves right back where they started. Miserable. Discontent. Unable to hear God.
It’s like this crazy bus tour that goes right where it started. Once again, they will fill their life with noise and accomplishments that mean nothing and still leave them longing for something more. They will have a quiet discontent in their soul. Again.
This is the older brother in the Prodigal Son story. The one who stayed home and worked hard and on the outside had done the ‘right thing.’ Truth was he was a Justifying Delinquent. He speaks the language clearly – “I have never left you. I always did what was right.”
The crisis point was the return of his prodigal brother but his transformation had been a long time in the making. Just like his brother, he didn’t really love the father for who he was, for the joy of the relationship. Just like his brother, he was so focused on what he got out of the arrangement. Just like his brother, he focused on who he wasn’t – not on who he could become.
The Justifying Delinquent had none of the graciousness of his father. None of the love. It finally gave out – his will. He too had been obeying his father out of reluctance. It finally broke in him. We are left with an older brother who is just as selfish as the younger but without the humility and insight to know that he too needs the grace of his Father. In his mind, he is justified for who he has become.
There is another path. It’s got bends and fog and dark patches. It is the unknown. And it is an expensive road to travel. The cost?