Read Isaiah 66
Focus on verse 2
When our children were younger, reverse psychology would sometimes work when they were in a rebellious state of mind. When it got to be bedtime and I suspected there would be resistance I would say something like “I forbid you to go to sleep!” It was always evident who the true rebels were at this point, as they would be the ones who would defiantly pretend to go to sleep. The reason it seldom was successful is that the others would cheer! Then I would have to change my mind and insist that it really was bedtime and most days they would reluctantly comply.
In today’s reading the Lord reminds his people that what He is looking for in people is a humble and contrite spirit, and a high degree of respect for His word. (v. 2) He then goes on to describe how those who offer insincere sacrifices, and religiously keep the letter of His law, yet inwardly delight in evil and dwell on abominable thoughts and actions are worse than unbelievers. He encourages those who are genuine worshipers yet are persecuted in the name of religion by the insincere ones, by reminding them that He will have the final word, and in the end these insincere impostors will be put to shame.
It is perhaps, not so much reverse psychology as it is two conflicting systems of thought. There is a worldly system of operation that values the things the world values; money, power, fame, pleasure etc. There is also a godly system of operation that values the things of God; love, peace, patience, sacrifice, goodness, that sort of thing. These to worldviews could not be more opposite from each other and often cause conflict as both within us and around us, they compete for our attention.
The defining factor that separates one from the other is the choices we make. The Lord gives us the freedom to pursue and live by either system. One leads to a life in which we experience the love, joy, peace and freedom of the hope we have in Christ Jesus, but often costs us the physical pleasures and rewards the world tempts us with. The other promises us the world, but leaves us empty on the inside, always craving more of what can never truly satisfy.
It does have a reverse psychological dimension in that by choosing poverty we gain riches beyond measure, while by choosing riches we ultimately lose everything. Those who choose humility are ultimately exalted, while those who choose to be exalted are ultimately humiliated. To me the choice is clear…not easy…but clear.