Finger-Pointing and My Pride – 2 Chronicles 25
There once was a king in a distant land
Who occasionally followed God’s commands.
Sometimes he heeded Godly advice,
But too often by his own flesh was enticed.
Though God was clearly on his side,
This king was brought down by false worship and pride.
(My Mother Goose rendition of 2 Chronicles 25)
It’s so easy to point a finger at King Amaziah. Just thinkin’ he shoulda learned a lesson from the lethal consequences of his dad’s spiritual compromises. Instead this ninth king of Judah did what so many of us are tempted to do: he offered God a limp handshake and a lukewarm cup o’ coffee.
Amaziah didn’t pose as an enemy of God…though as a believer, we might be tempted to call him a “poser.” As newly appointed king of Judah, one of the first things on his hit list included swift execution of his father’s assassins…but he obeyed God’s command to mercifully spare their children (Deut. 24:16). In his quest to conquer the Edomites, he rashly purchased extra troops from wayward, idolatrous Israel…but he listened to wise counsel about recruiting an ungodly army, and reluctantly returned the Israelite soldiers…even though it really stung to lose the four tons of silver he had paid to acquire them. You might say Amaziah was “on the fence” when it came to wholehearted devotion to God. Until…
Amaziah sat on a wall,
Amaziah had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put King A together again.
(My adaptation of an actual nursery rhyme)
Eventually, Amaziah lost his balance on the fence of halfhearted devotion. After decimating 20,000 Edomites (without the aid of those apostate mercenaries), he fancied bringing home some sketchy souvenirs. He unpacked his suitcase and dared to accessorize the palace with images of Edom’s false gods…and worse, he proceeded to worship them!
Did this guy have a short memory, or what?! Where was his recent conviction about aligning himself with idolatry? And this time, he actually threatened to “shoot the messenger” who issued grave warnings about his sinful behavior!
Predictably, his dabbling in darkness lead to the “mother of all sins”—flagrant pride. Amaziah suddenly became tantamount to a playground bully. Feeling like Mr. Big Stuff after his victory over the Edomites, he challenged Israel’s King Jehoash to meet him on the battlefield. When Jehoash warned him to “stay home if you know what’s good for you,” Amaziah continued to heckle him.
Splat! Alas, arrogance prophetically precipitated a nasty fall, as Jehoash routed Amaziah & Co. in the resulting scuffle. The remainder of Amaziah’s reign was spent ingloriously, mostly on the run from death threats by disgruntled subjects, who finally managed to hunt him down and murder him. Rather like an ambivalent spouse, Amaziah ultimately couldn’t straddle the fence of spiritual (in)fidelity.
Right about now, I’m breathing a sigh of relief. Thank goodness I’m not like King Amaziah! No pagan knick-knacks decorating my mantle! I go to church. I follow the rules (pretty much). People say I’m nice. I’m a good Christian girl, I am.
OK, OK…so I confess I’m a Woody Allen-variety worry wart!
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” (Luke 12:25)
And alright, already…I guess I kinda care what people think?
“If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant” (Gal 1:10)
You can hardly blame me for disliking our spiteful neighbors!
“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” (Matt 5:44)
C’mon, EVERY woman on the planet relishes financial security?!
“Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy” (Matt 6:20)
Don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s haunted by feelings of inadequacy?
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Eph 2:10)
Oy vey. Evidently, it appears Amaziah and I might have been born with the same “birth defect”—a preoccupation with ourselves—which, by definition, can be categorized as pride (that “mother of all sins”). Though my personal pride preference probably more closely resembles that of the Pharisees…because remember? I’m a rule-following, church-going, people-pleasing good girl!
But isn’t mine a more “attractive” sin? Did I just say that? Is that an oxymoron?
“You can have no greater sign of a confirmed pride, than when you think you are humble enough,” writes eighteenth century theologian, William Law.
However obvious Amaziah’s abominations, I contritely conclude that…
Every, single one of us despite our feeling lofty,
Gives our God limp handshakes and lukewarm cups o’ coffee.
After a quarter century (willingly!) spent in the trenches of childrearing, Stacy suddenly discovers herself in a season of rediscovery. Having also worked the last seven years for Irvine Unified School District, she is now taking time to nurture neglected relationships, laundry loads, half-read books and unpursued dreams. A graduate of UCLA with a degree in English literature, she has entertained a life-long love affair with language, preeminently, God’s Divine written Word. Stacy, her husband, Steve, and their four adult children all actively live, work, worship and play in southern California. While awaiting honest inspiration, she blogs at “Searching for Sanity and Missing Socks.” StacySharpe.wordpress.com.