“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
All of us have heard the phrase “stubborn as a mule.” This term was probably coined by frustrated farmers after they observed how difficult it was to get their donkeys to pull their assigned loads in the field. I think there’s a lesson we can learn about our relationship with Christ when we examine exactly why a mule is stubborn.
The reason a mule balks at pulling a load is not because he doesn’t hear the command “giddy up.” Rather, he would simply not hear it. He has more than enough strength and ability to pull that load, but he would rather graze in the green grass of the pasture or bask in the noonday sun than work for his owner. Our human minds are several levels above that of a mule, but we sometimes manifest the same characteristics. How many times have we heard a clear command from God as revealed in His Word, but we, like the mule, try to evade obedience because the biblical command does not coincide with our mind’s individual prejudices and desires!
When I was a child, I was reluctant to hear my mother’s call because I knew that if I listened and obeyed her it would result in some unpleasant chore that would encroach upon my playtime. That’s why I chose not to see my dirty hands and ignore her command to wash them, because I would have rather been eating. Sometimes I see this “selective hearing” in my children today. This kind of evasive thinking is found in the minds of mules and children, but it should never be found in the thinking of mature, responsible adults (1 Corinthians 13:11).
Yet, while the eternal destiny of souls are at stake, there are professed Christians who exhibit indifference and intolerance toward the true teachings of God as revealed in the totality of the Bible. They do so because such teachings are contrary to their personal desires or disrupt their convenient, worldly way of life. Jesus talked about such people when he quoted Isaiah by saying, “Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says, ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them’” (Matthew 13:14-15).
What a pity it is for people who could (and should) know God’s truth which is his Word (John 17:17), but reject it because it does not suit their evil lifestyles or tastes. For example, God commanded that men have faith (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10), repent of their sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19), and be baptized (literally in the original language, immersed) in water in order to obtain salvation and forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38), and to be put into Christ and His one body which is His church by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; cf. Ephesians 1:22-23). How sad it is for such commands to be rejected simply because it violates the wishes of family (Matthew 10:34-37) or the traditions and doctrine of religious groups (Matthew 15:1-9) who are seeking after the god of convenience rather than the God which demands obedience (1 Samuel 15:22; Acts 5:29; Hebrews 5:8-9).
Let’s ask ourselves whether we have the mind of a mule or a child…or the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5-8). Friends, God wants us to have the mind of Christ. Jesus chose to be obedient, even to the point of giving His life. May we be the same!