Jeremiah 12:1-17 Giving Myself a Spiritual Check Up
Jeremiah 12:1-17 Giving Myself a Spiritual Check Up is a sermon on the importance of regular spiritual check-ups.
When we pick up Jeremiah, we see that he starts with similar “complaints” against God. The prophets in the Old Testament would complain in their prayers to God. Their main question is: Why do you let the evil continue when I am having such a hard time being righteous?
Job asked it.
Elijah asked it.
Jeremiah is asking it.
So there are times when you are going to question God’s call on your life.
There are times you will go through a spiritual check up (12:1-4)
“You test whether my heart is with you.” (12:3)
Your heart is what needs an occasional check up.
EXAMPLE: DOCTOR VISIT
I went to the doctor last week because of my back pain. I told her that I was checking in to see if there was anything I could get to relieve the pain and what else could be done. I told her I turned 40 and that my dad had a heart attack a couple of weeks ago. I said that he had coronary artery disease and since it is in the family, I wanted her to know that I probably need to exercise and eat better.
She asked if I ever had my cholesterol checked and I said no. Her jaw dropped to the floor. She said that I needed to get that checked real soon. I needed to test whether my heart was ok.
What my doctor told me I needed to for my physical heart, God tells us that we need to do spiritually for our heart with God.
There is a reason for this. There are times when we are so involved in ministry that we forget to get our hearts checked.
The church at Ephesus had lost their first love.
God had told His people that they worship, but their hearts aren’t in it.
So there are times when we are doing things for God, but we are just going through the motions.
But you better be ready for God’s response when make an appointment with Him.
You have to train yourself for the long-term. (12:5-6)
In the previous chapter, Jeremiah’s life was threatened. Naturally, Jeremiah starts to question things. He starts with the logical question:
I have been faithful, but I don’t see results. If what You have called me to do is to help change lives, when why don’t I see enough of the change? Why do I only see resistance?
God’s answer: If you are tired now, how can you handle the bigger things I want you to do.
I love the way God says this. In essence, He says:
You think it’s tough now? Just wait.
You are complaining about how things are now? How faithful are you going to be when it gets real tough?
You think it’s tough doing this assignment?
The people are questioning your judgment (12:4). Sure.
But look at what your family is saying about you. (12:6).
When things are going easy, we don’t get our check-ups.
Only after the hard times start to come, then we start to cry out for help.
God says: Get going. Go get some exercise. Go work on your spiritual exercises (like prayer and reading God’s word, and spending time in worship.)
EXAMPLE: NEGATIVE RESISTANCE EXERCISE
You know that resistance exercise is the kind that builds endurance in the muscle. When I lift up a muscle on an exercise machine, that is positive resistance, but when I lower that weight back down slowly, I am doing negative resistance. This negative resistance – pushing back against something as it comes down on my body, actually strengthens my body better.
God knows this because He spends time describing negative resistance against Himself by His people. God is spending time getting exercise through “negative resistance.” He’s getting from all kinds of people. Look at the following examples:
GOD’S NEGATIVE RESISTANCE EXERCISE
My inheritance = my people. They have resisted me and it makes me want to hate them (12:7-9)
My shepherds (12:10-11)
The destroyers (12:12-13)
God’s negative resistance exercise is when He burns with anger. He has to punish the sin that driven His people’s hearts away from Him. So, He will throw His strength against them
Notice that God will take that negative resistance and push. He will exercise His strength against His enemies (12:14-15).
You shouldn’t destroy what God has taken years to build (12:15-17).
Here we see that conditional promise: If my people will obey me, then I will shower them with blessings. But if they turn away, then I will destroy what they value.
What is there for us to learn?
Sin can destroy what has taken God many years to build in you.
Just as smoking can add years to your life and destroy your body, sin can destroy the spiritual health of a Christian.
Sin is cumulative, which means it adds up. Now, we are forgiven from the power of that sin when we come to Christ. However, we are not exempt from the consequences of sin.
Just because I am a Christian, it does not mean that sin can’t try to harm. It has no eternal power, but it has temptation power. Only when I spiritual heart is in good shape (by exercising in the power of the Holy Spirit), can I overcome the problems that sin poses to me.
So what does all this mean? If we “learn” the ways of God, and “follow” Him (12:16), then I can continue to see victories in my life. But I have to keep myself spiritually strong.