By Lisa Huddleston
“But I thought better of it and acted out of who I was, not by what I felt, so that I might be honored and not blasphemed by the nations ….” (Ezekiel 20)
Three times in Ezekiel 20, God speaks these words in response to his overwhelming desire to wipe out his chosen people for their blatant disrespect and sin against him. When a word is spoken even once by God, it’s worthy of our attention, but three times in the course of one chapter deserves our total concentration.
We could focus our thoughts on Israel’s glaring sins. We could compare their idolatry and desecrations to our present day actions, and we would find many similarities to note. But these particular words are about God and his freedom to choose his response–they are not about the people.
In turning our thoughts toward God, we find a lot to learn. First God “thought better.” That really blows my mind. In other words, God had a first thought–a knee-jerk response to their sin–“to inflict his anger of them,” “to unleash his anger on them,” and “to dump his anger on them.” But he thought better of it! He took his first thought captive, and he chose to change his mind.
Next, he decided to act out of who he was instead of how he felt–which in case you missed it was ANGRY. God resolved not to let his emotions control his actions. It comforts me to read these words and to realize that God understands the power of feelings and the need to reign them in at times. Even he needed to remember who he was and to act out of that truth. Incredible!
And why did it matter how God chose to act? Couldn’t God do whatever he wanted to do? Absolutely, but his name was at stake. He thought better and decided to act from a place of who he is (his I AM-ness) so that he would be honored by those who were witnessing his actions–the nations surrounding Israel.
My prayer this day is to do the same: to think better, to act out of who I am in Christ rather than how I feel, and to honor God and bring him glory.
May it be so.