Summary: Newton’s First Law of Motion states: Everything continues in a state of rest unless it is compelled to change by forces impressed upon it. Do the forces of sin around you compel you to change?
Turn with me to Ezra 9.
After putting it off for a long time, a man finally went to the doctor. After the examination and all of the tests and blood work, the doctor just shook his head. He told the man, “You are in terrible shape. In order to pull out of this, you’re going to have to change some things. First, you’re going to have to tell your wife to start fixing you three well-balanced, nutritious meals a day. Then you’re going to have to quit working so many hours. That’ll mean you’re going to make less money. So to compensate for making less money, that means your wife is going to have to make a budget. Not only is she going to have to make a budget, she’s going to have to stick to it. And here’s another thing. When you get home from work, you’re going to have to learn to relax. You need to tell your wife that when you get home, she’s not to worry you with the kids and a honey-do list. I know those are some drastic changes, but unless you do them, you probably won’t last a month.” The man was smart enough to know he couldn’t go home with that kind of list for his wife. So he told the doctor, “Doc, this would sound more official if it came from you. Is there any way you could call and give her the instructions yourself?” The doctor agreed that would be best. Well, the man went on to work and didn’t think much more about it. Then when he got home that night, his wife ran up to him crying and hugged him. Being the concerned husband he was, he said, “Honey, what’s wrong?” Through her tears, she looked up at him and said, “I talked to your doctor. After talking to him, I know you only have 30 days to live.” That man had a problem. He had some obvious lifestyle issues that were killing him. And the only way they would keep from killing him was if he and his wife changed. But people don’t like to change, do we? In the late 19th century, the Duke of Cambridge said, “Any change, at any time, for any reason, is to be deplored.” That sounds harsh and unreasonable. But isn’t it really just putting into words the feelings that most of us have deep inside? Actually, the Duke was really just more honest with himself than most of us are. Look at the theme of this election so far. It’s not a new thing, it seems to be the theme of every election. But the theme is “change”. Nobody says what the change is from or what the change is to, but everybody wants change. But let’s be honest with ourselves. We all see the need for change. It’s easy to look around and see all the things around us that are messed up. It’s called living in a cursed and fallen world. That’s easy to see, so it’s easy to see the need for change. But the thing that makes it difficult is when that change involves us changing as well. It was easy to see that things were going to have to change in the man’s life. I’m sure the wife could see it as well. But when those changes became personal—well, that’s a little too hard to deal with. FM Cornford, a British author and poet once said, “Nothing is ever done until everyone is convinced that it ought to be done. And has been convinced for so long that it is now time to do something else.” He also wrote that, “Nothing should ever be done for the first time.” So, it’s painfully obvious that we as human beings have a very conflicted view of change. We find it very easy to see the need for change. But within ourselves we have a tremendous resistance to change. We like our routine. We like our comfort zone. Just like that poor man’s wife, we have done what we do for so long that we don’t want to change it—no matter what the consequences are. And it will always be that way unless our motivation to change overrides our desire for comfort. Or to use Mr Cornford’s words, we are “convinced that it ought to be done.” And hopefully we’re convinced before it’s time to do something else. That’s where Ezra and the people of the remnant found themselves in our passage tonight. In verses 1-3 that we looked at last week, they opened their eyes and saw their sin. They saw the extent, the nature and the consequence of their sin. And they saw that they weren’t just part of the problem, they saw themselves as chief in the trespass. But as we’ve said, it’s easy to see the problem. It’s easy to see the lack of passion for the lost. It’s easy to see the need for outreach. It’s easy to see the urgency of the situation around us. That’s easy. What’s hard is getting motivated to do something about it. And that’s what happens in our passage tonight. Ezra leads the remnant in getting motivated to change. To change from the sin they had become so comfortable with to the humble, pure, changed lives God would use to accomplish the work He had in store for them. So how do we become motivated to change? We do it the same way Ezra and the remnant did. We become motivated to change by looking in three directions. The first direction is outward. Look at verse 3: