Earlier this week at daily Mass, we read from the Book of Proverbs and among the Proverbs we read was this one:

All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who measures hearts. (Proverbs 21:2).

And in this Proverb we see an important reminder for our times. For an increasing attitude of our times it says, in effect, “I will do what I want to do, and I will decide whether it is right or wrong.” In other words, “No one is going to tell me what to do, I answer to no one.”

To be sure this is always been problematic attitude in the human family. Indeed, it can be argued that it was at the heart of the temptation that Adam and Eve gave way to in the garden. For the serpent said, “Did God really say, you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1) And again, “You will be like gods!” (Genesis 3:5)

And thus we see the origin and heart of our human rebellion against God and against his law. But whatever temporary illusion we choose to entertain, as the proverb reminds us, we are going to have to answer to the Lord. He will weigh, he will measure our hearts, we will answer to him. No one is a judge in his own case.

Scripture says elsewhere

So then, each of us will have to give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)

Jesus said they tell you that men will have to give an account of the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36)

But they [the wicked and scoffers] will have to give an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5)

For there is nothing hidden that we’ll not be disclosed, and nothing concealed it will not be known for brought out into the open. (Luke 8:17)

Yes we are going to answer to God, and he will disclose our hearts.

These are essential teachings for us, especially in these times, when our sense of arrogance grows, and there are many who think they can live without consequences and will never have to answer for what they do.

It is one thing to sin through weakness, and with repentant hearts, we can confidently seek God’s mercy. But it is another thing to go on arrogantly refusing to recognize God’s law for the truth that It is and two assert that I am answerable to no one.

Again Scripture says

Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the Blood of the Covenant that sanctifies him, and has insulted the spirit of grace? For we know Him who said it is mine to avenge, I will repay, and again, the Lord will judge his people. It is an awesome thing to fall into the hands of a living God. (Heb 10:28ff).

Yes it is a very dangerous thing to go on calling good, or no big deal what God calls sinful. Many do this today, and not only do they go on sinning themselves, but they approve and promote these behaviors in others.

The Church is right to prophetically summon us all to repentance. For the day approaches for us all when the door closes, and our decisions are forever fixed. How awful that any of us should die in our arrogance and remain forever rebellious.

How sad it is that there are so many who, though the voice of God echoes in their heart, though his laws are evidenced in what he is made in the created order, and though the prophetic voice of the Church sounds in their ears, still they stubbornly refuse to hear any of these voices. They suppress the truth about God for a lie.

And while many assert that they will answer to no one, the truth is we will all answer to God. Yes, we will render an account for what we have done.

All the ways of a man maybe right in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who weighs the heart. Proverbs 21:2

18 Responses

  1. Warren Jewell says:

    Yet do we pray
    He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelations 22:20)
    We cannot have Him in His Kingdom without His final say.

  2. TaylorKH says:

    This is a very important and helpful teaching Pastor Pope. Thank you.

    I have noticed a type of person, or spirit within that person, which is adamantly opposed to any religious thought or expression in their presence. They revile it and me along with it. This saddens me, especially when I find it in someone who is close to me. I think that some persons who have this have been deeply wounded at some time in their lives, and this deep wound is agitated by a feeling that God has rejected them (they blame God for their bad experience and their wound). They may also isolate themselves from God. And so, this is why they respond so very bitterly. Now, in a few of these same persons, I have also found charity, but on their own terms and in their own way: they must initiate it – they must control it. So, in this case, I see that it is easy to misjudge someone. If charity is in the wounded heart, God will certainly know it, but we may not and often will not.

    While we look at one and think on the surface, “That one is evil and on a certain path to Hell,” we could certainly be mistaken just as much as when we see someone who appears very holy on the surface, but in their hearts they are seething with disobedience, arrogant self-aggrandizement and pride.

    I suppose that it is up to us to observe, query, and help our bretheren if we can. When we hit a road-block, we must go to God in prayer for help.

    Should God give his priests a glimpse of the heart which is actually on the path to Hell so that they can know and intervene? Or is that too much to know? Or is it already known, and as simple as knowing an apparently nice person who violates one commandment of the Decalogue? Does one violation of the Decalogue, all things considered, lead absolutely to eternal damnation of a person who does not repent before they die? Probably not if there are mitigating circumstances – God is just.

    And so I imagine that it is the one who sins with the full intention to hate God and/or to hate his brother or to hate him/herself – that this is the one who is headed for Hell truly?

  3. Todd Flowerday says:

    “For an increasing attitude of our times it says, in effect, “I will do what I want to do, and I will decide whether it is right or wrong.” In other words, “No one is going to tell me what to do, I answer to no one.””

    I wonder if this isn’t in part a reaction against the increasingly casual attitudes of Western aristocrats from about the time of the French Revolution to especially WWI. The so-called Great War exposed western leaders as self-centered, incompetent in waging war, and utterly uncaring toward lower classes, not to mention non-Europeans. After WWII, much of the foment about leadership centered on a critique of the notion that a person in power could do anything she or he wished, as long as the justification was good enough. And it doesn’t look too different today.

    Not that I’m disagreeing with you that placing oneself under the Lordship of Christ is a good idea. But many people reject the idea this authority is communicated in any unerringly credible way by institutions, including the bureaucracy of the Church.

    My sense is that what some interpret as arrogance is really more a rejection of earthbound authority, secular and religious, that lacks a moral credibility. I think the problem is deeper and more profound and needs something other than an appeal to morality. I think we need something different from church leaders, not more of the same.

    • Scott W. says:

      I agree that we need something different from our Church leaders in the sense that they need to be faithful, not politicians. However, even if every bishop shepherded his flock with perfect justice and mercy, people would still bristle simply because it was earthly authority because we have been programmed by whigs and their recipe for chaos in spreading power thinly for centuries.

  4. Daniel says:

    An important reflection certainly. I wonder if you have any particular people or situations in mind when you suggest “these times, when our sense of arrogance grows”? Do you mean there are certain people in the Church who believe they are accountable to no one, or that this is the general attitude of the age which needs to be remedied by the Church?
    Also, if you allow, I would like to suggest another angle on the line from proverbs. Rather than opposing “man” and “the Lord” as you have done, you might also oppose “the eyes” and “the heart”. That is, man tends to accept as right what he simply sees around him, whereas true obedience requires the assent of the heart–God looks to our faithfulness of heart rather than the superficial judgment of doing what we saw others do. Selfishness is sinful, and intentional disregard for the law of God requires a call to repentance, but perhaps there is a silver lining in the personalization of morality seen in “our times” in that it encourages us to personally integrate the law of God–so we don’t externally follow it because of what we simply see others do.

  5. […] echoes in their heart, though his laws are evidenced in what he is made in the created order… Someday you will die, and your decisions will be forever fixed… __________________ Your socks stink. To view links or images in signatures your post count […]

  6. It isn't always what it seems says:

    Thank you Taylor.

    When I was newly married, I began going to daily mass. I had begun to read Catholic classics and was in love with the blessing of a sudden and amazing deepening of faith.

    There was a homeschooling family with five sons, that attended mass every day at 7am. I was really struggling as a new parent, and so looked upon this family that befriended me with “stars in my eyes”. I wanted to be just like them. They seemed so perfect and in control. As time went by, I began to notice that my friend wasn’t happy, she was emaciated, obsessed about her food costs. She had a real fear of her husband. She told me she could feed her family of seven on $400 a month. If she went over this her husband was angry. She sometimes opened up a tiny bit about it. One day, a cup holder in her car was broken by one of the kids. She was terrified, and instructed all of her children to keep this fact hidden from their father. I began noticing more disturbing things, hearing details that didn’t add up. A couple of years later, when I decided that I would be putting my child in Catholic preschool, my friend told me that my child could no longer come to the playgroup he enjoyed, because he would learn terrible things in school, and would infect the other children with them.

    I was stunned. The homeschooling families were my only friends at that point.

    That was it for me. Despite the Catholic study group, the rosaries, the get togethers, the pro-life activities etc., I had seen and heard enough.

    Before I began my new journey in the faith, I knew a friend from my teen years. He was from an agnostic, divorced family. His mother hated the church and loved to go on about it, spewing bile the way atheists do. She was proud of her abortion. She was proud of bringing her daughter for one. She would say things like, “I put her on the pill so she can enjoy her beautiful body.”–her poor daughter was 14. My friend had a good heart. I could tell he was different from his family, all of whom were promiscuous, all of whom had aborted at least one child. When I would talk to my friend about God, he was not only open, it seemed that this *was* the reason for why he was different from his family.

    Twenty years later, my good friend, who appeared upstanding in all things except a couple of times when I saw that he was abusing alcohol, he finally opened up to me about his life and childhood. It explained so much. His mother had been raped by her brother-in-law. Her Catholic family was more interested in saving face, and refused to believe her. Her oldest son, my friend’s brother became a rapist too, and has never been brought to justice. My friend revealed to me that he had been subjected to hard core porn from his earliest memories. His first sexual experience was with a prostitute whom he was brought to. His father would ask my friend if he was “getting any”. He started using drugs to minimize the pain.

    My friend wanted nothing to do with the disgusting morals of his family. While he says his conversion to Catholicism was his salvation, he confessed a protracted struggle with porn addiction. While you or I might unwind to a glass of wine, my friend was enslaved to porn. He fought this demon for years. He fought it for decades. He says it was a miracle of grace that finally saved him from it. He is sure that his enslavement was demonic. There were even signs of this.

    My second friend is a saint. I don’t say this lightly. He is truly a saint in what he says and does. It is almost like a scent that permeates him. To hear his entire story makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I can’t even imagine what he has been through. I know some people prefer to see people in black and white, and they would refuse to find any grace or salvation in a porn addict, but I will say it anyways. My friend was good. He was always good, even with his horrible addiction and struggle. I knew him, I watched his life, I knew his kindness and his accomplishments. I don’t believe if he had died in the midst of his terrible struggle, he would have gone to Hell, His addiction WAS hell, and now he’s free of it. He knows how far he fell, and he is humble.

    “There but for the grace of God go I”.

    • Emmanuel says:

      You are right. But it appears there is a point missed here. Your friend who struggled with alcohol and all manner of trials and temptations cannot be considered to be arrogant. He had need and, indeed, embraced God hence he won victory by His grace. You will agree that there are many who have been hearing the message of salvation, believe it yet do nothing about it. There are many who have knowledge but do what they want to do all the same. Some had once told me that God is so loving and good to allow anyone to go to hell no matter what the person does, hence he went about his life style of fornication, cheating, etc. There are also some who do not believe that God exists. To them, it is in the imagination of those who believe and trust in His love. You can different these from your friend who loved God and worked hard to have Him in his life. It is important we understand this and avoid moving away from the issue wonderfully presented by Msgr. Charles Pope.

      Thank you Msgr., I appreciate. I will certainly use this piece further for the purpose of evangelisation.

  7. Brad says:

    Every soul must come to know, love and serve her God. The only alternative, whether it is coyly tacit or stridently overt, is for the soul to say “non serviam”, which is what lucifer declared as he plunged down from heaven, screaming in pride and rage. As he fell like lightning he became satan, the great adversary of God and of God’s creatures.

    O my soul, which will you choose? Will you serve the One who made you and sustains you in love, or will you not?

  8. It isn't always what it seems says:

    I should clarify something. When I wrote above, “That’s it for me”, I didn’t mean for my faith. No, not all all. I go to daily mass and pray because this is the heart and soul of my day.
    “By their fruits, you shall know them.”

  9. Marius says:

    “…it is a very dangerous thing to go on calling good, or no big deal what God calls sinful. Many do this today, and not only do they go on sinning themselves, but they approve and promote these behaviors in others”
    How very true. Evil just loves to pretend to be its opposite and in our times it usually parades in the disguise of “individual rights”, “procreative health”, “anti-bullying”, “quality of life”, “women’s right to choose”, etc., etc. We must always look BEYOND mere words and compare what we see with the Holy Scripture and the Magisterium.

    • It isn't always what it seems says:

      Imagine that you are a Thai sex slave, sold into slavery, by your own father when you were nine. Will you be judged differently for serious sin, than a nice,, upper middle-class girl like me?

      “To those whom much has been given, much is expected.”

  10. Cynthia BC says:

    When I came home from work today, I pointed to the dishwasher full of clean dishes and started to ask my 11yo “c” to put them away. As soon as she saw me gaze toward the dishwasher, she stuck her fingers in her ears:

    me: It doesn’t matter if you DON’T hear me, or DON’T want to, you still HAVE to.
    c: *sigh*

    It is a good thing that God has more patience than I, else the Earth would be a barren wasteland.

  11. RichardC says:

    The Judgement is the part I am not looking forward to.

  12. JuliB says:

    “So then, each of us will have to give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:12)”

    And yet I know many people who plan to “explain themselves” to God Himself, as if they can persuade God that they are right. Hubris :(

    We’ve lost a lot of our understanding of the all-powerful God, the Creator. And we are mere dust. As God asks Job, just who do you think you are?

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