We are all familiar with the communication barriers between men and women. On the edge of pursuit, it is common to confuse a woman’s friendliness for intrigue, and vice versa. After the realization of rejection, the expected response tends to resemble something along the lines of, “but I thought she…” you finish the rest. Being that it is so easy to confuse signals between man and woman, how much easier is it to misinterpret a gesture from God to man?

Amos was a prophet during the times of such misinterpretation. He witnessed a fruitful Judah that was heavily influenced by the materialism and social perversion of neighbor Israel. He witnessed a group of people who thought they were the light of the earth become the bane of God’s hatred and judgment. In Amos 3:2, God declares,

“You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth;
Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

This implicates that the Israelites mistook God’s blessing over them for exemption from sin. Rather than living righteously because of God’s grace, they lived in sin because of His mercy. People often debate how much mercy and grace we can receive without abusing it. I believe this is a perfect illustration. When we use God’s mercy as a means to exempt ourselves from judgment, we have crossed the line. We should be practicing righteousness on a daily basis because of God’s grace. This is reflective of a thankful attitude rather than a taking attitude. Amos 5:18-27 exemplifies the so called Christian life in the absence of righteousness,

“Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD,
For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you?
It will be darkness and not light;
As when a man flees from a lion
And a bear meets him,
Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall
And a snake bites him.
Will not the day of the LORD be darkness instead of light,
Even gloom with no brightness in it?
“I hate, I reject your festivals,
Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies.
“Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.
“Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
“But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

Righteousness like an everflowing stream: in other words, we can act out faith in every aspect from practices to understanding, to wisdom, and to sacrifice — but if we lack an ever-flowing stream of righteousness then we have not pleased our Father. We have not gained inheritance in His Kingdom; He has not found delight in us; We are no different from sinners perverting justice.

In what ways have we over-assumed the grace and mercy of God in our lives that we have actually missed His message to us? In what ways have we misinterpreted His blessing for us? Just because we are living a priveledged life does not mean all is well. Circumstances alone do not signify right-standing with the Holy One. A pure and righteous heart dedicated to God on a daily basis is what earns the favor of the Lord. No amount of religion or church will accomplish salvation for you or me.

I fear  that too many people will reach eternity with a “but I thought” mentality — that they thought they had done everything that was neccesary to receive salvation, but missed it by a longshot. They will have misinterpreted God’s gesture of favor for a sign to let righteouness off with the wind.  I fear that too many nice people will be met with rebuke when they meet their “Savior.” I fear that we have too easily overestimated the tolerance and underestimated the judgement of God. I fear there is no fear. Fear of the Lord is the root of wisdom in all things. A tree without strong roots perishes in the storm. That is the destiny for Christians who do not fear the Lord. When winds rise, calamity ensues, and light darkens, will you receive rescue or rebuke from the Lord?

I hope you don’t confuse priveledge for rightstanding.