Be Careful What You Ask For

The nation of Israel as a whole was frustrated by the high taxation that existed during Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 12:4). When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took the throne. As a result of pride and bad advice, Rehoboam decided to increase the tax burden on the people. This resulted in 10 tribes rebelling under the leadership of Jeroboam, whom they named as their first king (931 BC).

They wanted change, and they were hoping for change, but the change they got was so bad that Israel never recovered. Jeroboam fundamentally transformed northern Israel. New gods. New priesthood. New days of worship. New location to worship God. I want to emphasize the point that all future kings in northern Israel kept these changes in place until their captivity by Assyria in 722 BC. They sacrificed the long-term spiritual health of the nation for temporary economic relief.

Be Careful What You Ask For!

We as a nation seem to be just as fickle as the people of Israel. One president or party is in power and we get sick of it and go to the opposite extreme: from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama.

The caution the Scriptures provide is…be careful what you ask for.

  • Do not vote with the “I’m just sick of the current crop of leaders” kind of mentality. You might put yourself in a worse situation than before!
  • Do not vote upon the emotions of the moment or a few good speeches. Because of the emotion of the moment, the Jews killed Jesus and asked for a murderer to be released instead. Look at history to see what happens when the emotions of the moment control the people.
  • Do not vote based on the temporary benefits that your favorite politician promises to give you. What is the long-term cost for those short-term goodies?
  • Have you fasted and prayed before you decided on a candidate?
  • Have you sought the counsel from God’s word before you decided on a candidate?
  • Have you considered the long-term spiritual consequences of your vote?

The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; in the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught…the wicked will return to Sheol, even all the nations who forget God (Psalms 9:15,17).

Naboth’s Vineyard – Not for Sale

Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”
(1 Kings 21:1-3)

Naboth’s Vineyard – Not for Sale.

In last Friday’s article, we looked into how the Israelites’ property was to stay in a family perpetually. So, real quick, it would have been against God’s law for Naboth to sell his vineyard to King Ahab, no matter how tempting the price or offer may have been. According to God, Naboth’s vineyard was not for sale. Of course, wicked King Ahab and his even more wicked wife, Queen Jezebel, had absolutely no regard for God’s law. They were going to get that vineyard by hook or by crook.

Unfortunately for Naboth, because he refused to sell his vineyard to Ahab, Jezebel had him murdered (read the rest of 1 Kings 21). In fact, if you read 2 Kings 9:26, the Bible makes it clear that not only Naboth was killed, but his sons were also murdered by Jezebel.

Naboth lost his life, but he did not lose his integrity and character. Eventually, God brought judgment upon all the house of Ahab because of this evil deed, and many others for that matter.

So, what is to be learned? Are you for sale? Is your integrity up for auction to the highest bidder? What is your price? Do you compromise your morals if the offer is just too good to pass up?

There are many men like this in the world, but God’s men like Naboth must not be for sale. Naboth was unlike Esau, who for one bowl of stew sold his birthright to his brother Jacob (Hebrews 12:16-17). Be careful of the “bowls of stew” in this life, the temporary pleasures and benefits that call to us, but the cost in the end is far more expensive (Hebrews 11:24-25).

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
(Matthew 16:26)

I, Me, Mine

Have you ever looked at the times in the Bible when someone says words like “I,” “Me,” and “My,” and then notice what often happens to them shortly afterwards? It is not a pretty picture!

  • Nabal was a self-absorbed rich businessman in 1 Samuel 25 who said “I” or “my” at least 7 times in verse 11. The Lord struck him 10 days later and he died (vs. 37-38).
  • In Jesus’ parable of a rich man in Luke 12:16-21, the rich man said repeatedly to himself words like “I” and “my.” God pronounced to him, “This night your soul is required of you, then whose will those things be which you have provided?”
  • King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in Daniel 4 recounts for us how he was humbled by God and had to eat grass like an ox. Notice the words of Nebuchadnezzar that precede that punishment in verse 30: “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” How does that grass taste, O King?
  • The kings of Assyria were very arrogant men as well, and in Isaiah 10 we see the same pattern of “I” and “My” coming out of the king’s mouth. Notice God’s response through Isaiah, “Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it? As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up, or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!” God said through Isaiah that He would “punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks” (vs. 12). A specific example of this is King Sennacherib of Assyria in Isaiah 36-37. Isaiah recorded that in one night an angel of the Lord struck dead 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, and King Sennacherib soon after was assassinated by two of his sons.
  • There are notable exceptions to this pattern like the prophet Elijah when he was very discouraged (1 Kings 19). Elijah said “I” and “my” a lot, too. However, I believe God viewed Elijah’s heart as much different than the above examples and led him through that period of depression.

So, what is the lesson? Listen to and think about the words coming out of our mouths! It is not your “day.” It is not your “time.” It is not your “body.” It is not your “money.” All we have is from God. If anything is good, profitable and successful in our lives, we must look to God to show Him the glory. Be careful about bringing too much attention to yourself. Always remember to praise the Lord and give him the thanks for all that we have and all that we can do.

For a positive way to use “I” and “My,” read Psalm 116. There are a lot of “I’s,” “Me’s,” and “My’s,” but it is all directed toward praising and thanking God.

What shall I render to the LORD For all His benefits toward me?
(Psalms 116:12)

Why Are You Angry?

…So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:5-7).

It doesn’t take long in Scripture to see people getting angry. In fact, by Genesis 4 someone was so angry that he (Cain) murdered his own brother (Abel). I am sure you either deal with anger issues or will be around someone today who is just angry in his heart.

Let’s consider God’s very first anger management course!

  • “Why are you angry?” That is a great question, isn’t it? There is a time to be angry, even Jesus was angry, but God is calling us to reflect upon the “why.” Invite God to search your heart and help you see the primary causes of your anger (Psalm 139:23-24). Invite a strong brother in Christ to help you walk through that anger in prayer (James 5:16).
  • “If you do well, will you not be accepted?” In Cain’s case, his anger was not Abel’s fault, was it? Cain’s anger was in direct correlation to his lack of obedience to God (1 John 3:12). Many times we blame our anger on someone else, but if we are honest, we are responsible for that anger. Our anger problem may have nothing to do with the other person at all. He or she just may be on the receiving end of our wrath (James 1:19-20).
  • Sin’s desire is for you. The Devil is real, and he is working overtime to get you to lose it and blow a gasket (1 Peter 5:8).
  • But you must master it. You – that means you. Cain, not Abel, had the problem. I can blame my boss, co-workers, upbringing, the economy, etc. for all my woes, but at the end of the day I am accountable for my response. I am on the hook for how I control my emotions. You must – That means God expects you to control your temper. You must rule over it – That means you have the power, with God’s help (1 Cor. 10:13), to control and master your emotions.

Remember the 4’s! When you are having problems with anger, there are many passages on it in Scripture, but start with the 4’s: Genesis 4, Psalm 4, Jonah 4, Ephesians 4, and James 4. When you are angry and not thinking straight, you will need something easy to recall!

  • Psalm 4:4 -Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah.
  • Jonah 4:4 – God asked Jonah, “Do you have a good reason to be angry?”
  • Ephesians 4:26-27 – Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
  • James 4:1-4 – James asks us to consider, “What is the source of the conflict?”

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city (Proverbs 16:32).

The Road You Leave Behind You

2 Kings 17:22 – “For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them.”

This verse is written at the time of the destruction and captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel at the hands of the Assyrian Empire. That was 722 BC. When did Jeroboam institute these changes? 931 BC. Do the math.

Please think about that for a minute…Jeroboam instituted drastic religious and moral change and Israel never recovered from it. If you read from 1 Kings 13 to 2 Kings 17 you will find over and over and over again that each successive king to reign over Israel “did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam.” For over 200 years, Jeroboam’s departure from God affected the northern kingdom of Israel until their ultimate destruction by Assyria.

Men, take this to heart. You may not think so, but you have such power and influence that any departure you make from God’s word could be felt by people for hundreds of years after your death. You may be paving the way for your children, co-workers, neighbors, friends and teammates to continue in the same disobedience to God. That was true of David, Solomon, and countless other examples in Scripture.

For example:

  • You may be tempted to have that intimate relationship with your secretary or co-worker, but at what cost? Do you look into the future to see hundreds of years of consequences?
  • You may feel like it is necessary to lie and bend the rules a bit to get a deal through at work, but at what cost? How will that affect you, your family, and your company for years to come?
  • You might convince yourself to avoid certain laws, taxes and codes in order to save some money and headaches. But again, at what cost?

Jeroboam lived for the moment, but it lasted for 200 years. Men, please think of the road you leave behind.

Instead leave a path paved with righteousness, justice, integrity and honesty.

Conflict Resolution: The World

Please refer to Monday’s article for the broader context of this discussion.

Reference Text:  Romans 5:6-10

Continuing to use God as the ultimate example in conflict resolution, today we will consider our relationships in the world. I’m assuming that your life is a bit like mine and conflict doesn’t usually arise among casual acquaintances. Conflict in the world is most often with those people we interact with on a daily basis at work, school, etc. The unique thing about this conflict is that, usually, the other individual involved cares nothing about God or what pleases God.

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”  John 15:18-19

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.”  I John 3:1

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” II Timothy 3:12

Pause & Reflect

If we don’t have conflict in the world we must ask ourselves an important question:  are we letting our lights shine? Jesus made it clear to his disciples that the world would hate them because it hated Him. In John 3:20, Jesus said “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” If our lives are actually reflecting Jesus, it will produce conflict with the world. This is the conflict we will be addressing. If we’ve got conflict arising from our ungodly behavior clashing with the ungodly behavior of others that is a different issue all together.

Reconciliation did not depend on our “worthiness.”

Look at the words used to describe us in Romans 5:6-10. We were helpless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies. Are any of us worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus? Yet God reached out to us to resolve the conflict anyway. We don’t make the attempt towards reconciliation because of the character or receptiveness of the other person. We take action and respond in love because it is what we have been called to do as children of God. Far too often I put people into one of two buckets. Bucket one, they are friends and useful to me. Bucket two, they are worthless and I have no use for them. Generally the way someone treats me determines what bucket I put them in. If God had the same buckets we would all be fighting for space in bucket two. God looks at us differently. He sees me, created in His image, and sees my pain, my ignorance, my suffering, and He longs for me and seeks me out. How do we develop this same attitude and what does it look like?

As we’ve discussed in an earlier article we only have control over ourselves and nothing in this world speaks louder than our response when we are shown hate. I Peter 2:12, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” Just a few verses later Peter says “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed”,  (vs. 21-24). A few observations about these passages to help us approach conflict:

First, who are we trying to glorify? If all we care about is our own reputation or being “right”, conflict will remain and get worse. From another angle, if we are only seeking resolution so that our lives can be more peaceful or more comfortable then we will fail God’s purpose for our lives. When we attempt to resolve conflict with the people of this world the purpose should be for the glory of God. Sometimes that will result in our peaceful relationships but ultimately our desire should be for peace between our “enemy” and their God. Is that my goal?

Second, do we approach conflict from empathy or from self-righteousness?

We too were lost. Christ bore our sins on that cross and He suffered pain so we could be healed. Our approach to conflict resolution must come from a position of empathy and understanding. What did it take for me to be healed? I needed a Savior that didn’t take the rejection personally and toss me into the “useless” bucket, but one that rolled up His sleeves and continued to love me and sacrifice for me when I was His enemy.

Finally, who do I trust?  The text in I Peter 2 says that He “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously”. When I reject someone or retaliate or ignore them I am basically trusting in myself to resolve the issue. Instead, when I show kindness, when I shower them with good deeds, when I sacrifice for them, I am entrusting myself to God to resolve the issue.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

When we reflect Jesus we will have conflict in the world. If we face the conflict secure in the peace of Jesus we might be able to rescue a few out of this world so that they too can have peace with God.

Distracted with Much Serving, Part 1

Today and tomorrow, Lord willing, we will focus on the passage from Luke 10:38-42 about Martha and Mary, especially that Martha was “distracted with much serving.” The illustration above was done by my daughter, Lindsay. Great work, Linz!

“Hey, Jesus! Don’t you see I’m busy working my fingers to the bone here in the kitchen all by myself? Don’t you care that I’m feverishly trying to take care of all these guests? Mary is not helping me; I mean…she isn’t doing anything. She is just sitting there on the floor listening to you. Why can’t you tell her to get her tail here in the kitchen to help me? You see, Jesus, my “ministry” is service and hospitality, and I’m trying my best to make sure that everything is just right so that everyone’s needs are met. But Jesus, I can’t do this all alone. There are meals to prepare, breads to bake, tables to set, drinks to fill, and dishes to do. Tell her to get in here and do something!”

The above words are merely my paraphrase, so please read Luke 10:38-42 to see how the Holy Spirit through Luke records the actual conversation between Martha and Jesus.

“Martha welcomed Him into her house.”  Martha was hospitable, that was her gift and her passion, and that is a good thing. In fact, God expects every single believer (including men) to be hospitable and to serve others. As God’s people we are all to use our homes and resources to share with others, especially with the less fortunate (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2,16).

Martha was a servant, a doer, and it seems that she had a very practical, no-nonsense personality about her. These are great character and personality traits and are very useful in the kingdom of God. She wanted to make sure that everyone was comfortable and well fed.  This is not the only time we find Martha serving guests and using her gifts of hospitality (see John 12:2). We are very thankful for the Martha’s in our lives. They get the job done, don’t they?

So what’s the problem? Isn’t Martha doing what she was supposed to be doing?  Is that not what Jesus had been preaching about all along?  Even Jesus said to be greatest in His kingdom, you had to be the servant of all.  At one point He asked His disciples, “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27).  Martha had that very heart, the heart of a servant, so Jesus was by no means correcting her for trying to serve others and to take care of others’ needs.

“Martha was distracted with much serving.”  What did Luke say?  What was distracting Martha? Much serving. You see men, Martha was not being pulled away by evil pursuits; she was just trying to be a servant to others. She was so involved in serving that she lost perspective on the reason for the gathering.  The dinner became the focus instead of the feast Jesus was offering. This is a vital point in the text here. She was not getting distracted with indulgence in sinful pleasure; she was getting sidetracked while using her gifts and talents that God had given her. The Scripture records that these things had become a “distraction” for her.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.”  Martha, Martha.  Remember that Jesus loved Martha just as much as He loved Mary and Lazarus (John 11:5). Martha wanted more than anything to please her Lord, and it is clear from other passages in Scripture that she had a strong faith in God and a clear understanding of who Jesus was and what He was teaching (Please see John 11:20-27).

Martha was a dedicated servant to Jesus, but she lost her focus. Jesus, in His tenderness and patience, called Martha back to (#1) reality and (#2) perspective.

Here is the reality – Martha was worried and troubled over a lot of stuff. She was worried about the guests. She was troubled over all the preparations.  Sadly, she got all worked up over what she considered to be Mary’s lack of involvement.  And here’s the kicker – she was really bothered by her assumption that Jesus did not even seem to care that Mary had left her alone to serve all these guests!

Here is the perspective – Mary had chosen the good part.  Mary was not lazy.  Mary was not un-hospitable.  Mary was not less interested in taking care of others.  She, as Jesus said, had chosen to focus on the most important and pressing thing at the time, and that was to listen to what Jesus was saying. Both Mary and Martha “approached” Jesus, but for very different reasons.  Mary sat at His feet to listen to what He had to say, but Martha wanted to tell Jesus what to do.

More on this tomorrow, men. Meditate upon this. May we as men in the world today think about what Jesus taught Martha.

Warning: Graphic Biblical Punishment

“So after all this the Lord smote him in his bowels with an incurable sickness. Now it came about in the course of time, at the end of two years, that his bowels came out because of his sickness and he died in great pain. And his people made no fire for him like the fire for his fathers. He was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years; and he departed with no one’s regret, and they buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” II Chronicles 21:18-20

I read the passage above and I just cringe at the thought of what King Jehoram went through. When Elijah is pronouncing God’s judgment he says in verse 15 “you will suffer severe sickness, a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the sickness, day by day.” So day by day for two years Jehoram suffered until he died in “great pain.” In my opinion, this might be the worst recorded death in the bible. But notice that the passage said “So after all this”. The Lord started by invading Judah and carrying away all the king’s possessions together with his sons and his wives, leaving only his youngest son. The youngest son was only spared for the sake of David.

But even after all this, I think the saddest part of the story might be the people’s reaction. They built no fire for him, they did not bury him in the tombs of the kings and “he departed with no one’s regret”. “No one’s” would even imply his own son showed no regret.

What could this man have done to deserve such a fate? How could a king of Judah fall so low that his own people wanted nothing to do with his funeral? You can read the details earlier in the chapter but in verses 12 and 13 we are told that he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel and caused Judah to play the harlot like the house of Ahab did and he killed his own brothers to secure his kingdom. He killed his brothers “who were better than you”. Verse 6 highlights that he walked in the way of Ahab “for Ahab’s daughter was his wife.”

The easy response for me would be to say “well I’d never do those things” or “what a terrible person…glad I’m not like him”, but I think there is something I can learn.

1. Walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, just like Ahab – Who influences me? What company do I keep? Do my friends and close associates draw me closer to God or pull me farther away? Young man, that special lady you’re dating, does she encourage a life of faith or of idolatry?
2. Caused Israel to play the harlot – What is the result of my influence on others? Are people encouraged when they are around me? Do I stimulate love and obedience to God in the lives of others? Or do I teach people how to chase false gods like wealth and entertainment and pleasure? Does my example show discontent and complaining?
3. He killed his brothers to secure his kingdom – “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (I John 3:15-17). I can honestly say that I’ve never, ever considered murdering anyone. But I have closed my heart to a brother. I have ignored the needs of my brother when I could have helped. I’ve chosen to keep a safe distance so I wouldn’t be aware of their pain and their struggle so that my comfortable, tidy life wouldn’t be disrupted.

I can read passages such as this one in II Chronicles 21 and walk away feeling superior or I can take it as a warning, evaluate my life, and strive to me more like Jesus.

What Do You Do More Than Others?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Being a follower of Jesus Christ is not a “Minimum System Requirements” kind of religion. What is the least I can possibly do and get by? Nope, not with Jesus. He expects more. He gave us His absolute best at the cross when He died for us. He loves the enemies; He sends rain and sunshine down on even the most wicked among us. Jesus expects the same from us.

This does not mean that there are no consequences for bad behavior or that we never confront people who have hurt us. Jesus is addressing our attitude, our words, our prayers and our behavior toward those who are not treating us well. How are you doing with that?

What do you do more than others? Is Jesus saying that we should be religious overachievers and do more religious works than anyone around us so that we will stand tall and look pious? No, that is what the Pharisees (religious leaders) of Jesus’ day were doing. They looked good religiously, but their attitudes stunk and their hearts were corrupt (Matthew 5:20). God expects more. He expects us to be like Him.

What do you do more than others? If you love those who love you, what reward is there for you in that? Wicked people do that! Slimy politicians running for president do that! Oops, I guess I have to love the slimy politician, too…

  • How hard is it, really, to be nice to those at work who are nice?
  • How much of a strain is it to be kind to the checkout clerk when the line is short, she is in a good mood, and you’re not in a hurry? What credit is that to you (Luke 6:32-33)?
  • If you are polite to other drivers on the road as long as they let you into their lane, and there is not a traffic jam, and as long as your air conditioner works, what do you do more than others?
  • If you are kind to others only when they agree with you and do things the way you want them to be done, what do you do more than others?

So, men, today our encouragement comes from Jesus who calls us to a higher plain spiritually. He is leading us to a completely different way of viewing and handling relationships. Jesus calls us to do four very specific things for our enemies: love, bless, do good, and pray. Anybody can be kind to those who are kind. It is easy to thank God for my friends who are so good to me. It is not a challenge for me to go over and help someone with a project if he is always doing the same for me. Do I do those same things for the people that really get under my skin?

What do you do more than others? That is a high calling, men.

A Trivial Thing

It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him (1 Kings 16:31).

60 years had passed since Jeroboam had become king and brought significant moral and religious change to Israel. After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel split into 2 kingdoms, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Jeroboam was the first king of the northern kingdom. There was never a righteous king in that northern kingdom. Jeroboam set the tone, and it just kept getting worse.

Jeroboam brought in a new priesthood, set up golden calves in the cities of Dan and Bethel, and he instituted a new feast day. All of these were “devised in his own heart” (1 Kings 12:33). All of these were in blatant defiance of what God asked Israel to do. At the time, this was a big deal, and of course, to God it never stopped being a big deal.

But 3 decades have since passed and now Ahab and Jezebel take the throne in Israel. The Bible says that Ahab thought it was “a trivial thing” to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, and he just kept doing “more evil” than all the kings who were before him.

A trivial thing. A light thing. No big deal. You see, Ahab grew up in this environment and he knew nothing different. For around 60 years, this is the way things were, so by the time he took the throne, the sins of Jeroboam were commonplace. He was desensitized to the things that God called evil. He did not blush when he should have blushed.

Men, my encouragement for all of us today is to consider this concept of “a trivial thing” in order to take inventory in our hearts. Are there things that you think are normal that 60 years ago by no means would have been accepted? Most importantly, are there things that you consider “a trivial thing” that are not trivial to the Lord? There are things we might laugh at or be entertained by, and we pass it off as no big deal, but have we thought about what God thinks about it? Is it a big deal to Him?

As Christians, we are living under the grace of Jesus, and for that we praise God! However, as Paul wrote in Romans, living under grace is not a license to continue in things that are not pleasing to God.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2).

May we take time today to pray and meditate upon this, asking the Lord to clean and renew our consciences, so that we will not be desensitized to the things that God calls sin.