Being a Person of Belief, Not a Hardened Heart Cynic
Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your fathers put me to the test
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
Dreamers and Cynics
Many years ago I heard a preacher say something that has stayed with me since. He said:
You are only as young as your dreams and as old as your cynicism
That quote has stayed with me because, let’s face it, we live in a cynical world. Cynicism means “An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others”
Many of us, probably all of us, have face let down. People we trusted, have not kept it. Authorities have failed us. People claiming to stand for truth, haven’t been truthful. Those we respect have not shown the integrity we had hope to find. The list goes on.
The Way of the Cynic
It is an easy response to suffering let down at the hands of others to resolve in our hearts to do something about, to not let it happen again. It is a natural human protective mechanism to use whatever we can to protect ourselves from being hurt again. Mostly, that is where cynicism comes in.
- Cynicism stops taking things at face value, and starts looking for ulterior motives.
- Cynicism starts on the back foot, protecting us from any unadvised movement forward.
- Cynicism sees the glass as half empty, lest we get our hopes dashed again.
Whilst cynicism begins as an admirable trait — a guard against gullibility (“No one’s going to dupe me!”) — it also opens the door to a rising tide of negativity, distrust and unbelief. And it is these things we find ourselves grappling with in our relationship with God.
God is Trustworthy
We should never look at God will cynicism. Why? Because unlike humans and our failings, He is different to us and has none. Others might be untrustworthy, but God isn’t because He’s different. Others might lack integrity, but He doesn’t. Others might have ulterior motives, but our Father’s are pure and blameless.
Cynicism does something to our hearts. It is out of the heart from which belief and faith emanates (see Romans 10:9-10). And that is why we are told to “guard our hearts, for out of it come the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
That is why the Lord rebuked the Israelites for hardening their hearts as they did in the Exodus. A hardened heart — a cynical heart — is not a believing heart but a disbelieving heart. A hardened heart hears the Word of the Lord, but instead of receiving gladly, sizes it up with suspicion and ultimately rejects it.
If you want to be a person of faith, a person who truly is a “believer” in God and His abundant, eternal promises you can’t also be identified as a cynic.
The thing with cynicism is you can’t turn it on and off like a tap. You are either cynical about all or none. If we’re cynical with others, we’ll be cynical with God. And that is not what God wants for you.
Believing in a Cynical World
If I am honest, this can be a tough one to navigate through. There are endless opportunities in this world to work on your cynical side; you don’t need to go looking for them! But God is also gracious in His provision to overcome that cynical approach to life.
He promises us a higher way, a better way to guard against those that would seek to deceive us and that is a Spirit of discernment. How do we walk in that? By walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit is the best safeguard any of us could have in this life against any one that might come at us with ulterior motives.