“So why don’t you help some of these people instead of simply protesting?”
I was shouting at my computer screen as I viewed a group of protestors marching and shouting in front of their local city hall. They were advocating for greater government action to deal with a pressing social issue that was gripping their city and many others across America. Something did have to be done, but why couldn’t they stop their protesting and just do it? Instead of being sympathetic to their cause, I was resenting their actions. I was cynical. This is not what they should be doing if they truly cared.
If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself.
James 2:15-17 (CSB)
Even before I became a Christian, these words written by the Apostle James, deeply resonated within me. I despised hypocrites who talked about helping people but never lifted a finger. As the old adage states, actions speak louder than words. As I viewed the protestors, I felt these old prejudices re-emerge. My heart was being hardened by what I saw.
But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart and multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh will not listen to you, but I will put my hand into Egypt and bring the military divisions of my people the Israelites out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment.
Exodus 7:3-5 (CSB)
For many years, I did not understand the meaning of this passage from the Book of Exodus. Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Was God cruel and vindictive, arbitrarily hardening hearts if He did not get His way? It was this recent incident that dispelled my confusion. While I agreed in principle with what the protestors were advocating, I disagreed with their methods. The more I heard, the harder my heart became, closing my mind to other options to address societal problems, like protesting. My actions revealed how I truly felt about the issue, stubbornly clinging to my preconceived notions. This is a hardened heart. It is not God hardening my heart, it is my own doing.
Thanks be to God that He continues to soften my heart, allowing me to consider and embrace methods and ideas that I previously dismissed. There is no single solution to solve the multitude of social issues that divide us. We must come together and begin the discussion.
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.