Who would want to live in a house built by a carpenter who couldn’t decide how far apart the joists and studs should be? Today he might settle on sixteen inches, but tomorrow think it silly to waste all that good lumber and set them thirty inches apart.
What security is there when a policeman decides which laws he will enforce based on how he feels each day?
Would you trust a teacher who said to ignore scientific laws that didn’t make sense to you?
And who would have their car serviced by a mechanic who just disconnected all the parts that frustrated him?
No sane person would accept any of those behaviors because we know that there are proven standards that govern each scenario that, if followed, will result in a strong house, an equitable system of justice, a comprehensive education, and a finely-tuned automobile.
It is amazing to watch folks who would never accept excuses like these borrow those identical arguements to describe their own response to God’s commands in the Bible. If they can’t see a practical purpose for some command, they disregard it. Their interpretation of certain passages depends upon which friend is currently exerting the most peer pressure, so they vacillate from day to day. They assume that God would spend a few thousand years inspiring writers to carefully preserve prophecies and stories, and then craft them so that the lessons He wanted them to grasp would mesh perfectly with how they happened to feel on the day they read them.
If that was the case, why did Paul talk so much about us being crucified with Christ? Why did Jesus speak about a cross that must be picked-up every day? If we can toss out scriptures that make no sense to us, let peer pressure define unpopular commands, and observe His laws (or not!) based on how we feel, where is the need for a cross?
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (I Timothy 2:8) is what Paul said. In the next two verses he added women to the discussion saying, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”
Without wrath and doubting are the key words Paul applies to both men and women. A man’s prayer and a woman’s adorning, he says, must spring from a heart free of anger and internal debate.
If God wanted only to affirm our feelings, Calvary was a needless sacrifice. But His aim was much higher than that. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21).
There are some things we need to settle once and for all. All of the back and forth saps our faith and generates frustration. Decide what God means, accept it, embrace it, and trust that He really does work all things for our good.
When we accept that God knows best, that His ways are above ours, we can surrender our will to His and free our souls from the frustrating struggle of trying to reconcile its value to our feelings.
Both the effect of our prayers and the value of our works are dependent upon the state of our hearts. Don’t neglect prayer or works, but make sure they flow from a heart from which man’s ways (emotionally driven debate) have been wrung, and God’s love now resides. Holy, without wrath and doubting.