My Old Testament readings lately have been in the Kings and Chronicles–the recounting of the rise and demise and obituaries of the kings of Judah. It’s easy to think that the longer we walk with the Lord and see His mighty acts and His faithfulness it most certainly ensures that we will be found faithful in the end. Alas, it is not necessarily so…
As I read these stories about the Kings of old my thoughts focus on finishing well. Some started with so much promise, so godly, so obedient, and each time we want the Scriptures to report that this king or this prophet remained faithful to the end, but not always so. There seemed to be that one thing, that one little sin, that one idol that was not torn down completely. I’d rather the report of my life, when I’m dead and gone, state, “She started shaky, but she finished well, all to God’s glory,” not, “She started well, but her ending crumbled.”
In my Bible Study a while ago, as we broke into small groups, one of my precious sisters, in answer to a question about our greatest fears before God, answered something like, “I’m always concerned I’ll walk away,” and she mentioned someone in her life who had walked away and it frightened her for herself. I have had that same fear. “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love…”, says the old hymn. How often I have sung those words and sensed the dread of them. Then comes the plea, “Take my heart, O, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.”
It is reassuring and comforting to know that if we are indeed in Christ, true believers, there is no condemnation, but we can still bring shame by our disobedience. We can dishonor our husbands, our children, our friends, our brothers and sisters in the Church. We can bring disgrace upon our once bright testimony and bring untold glory to Satan. Just ask the fallen pastors if they would relish a godly do-over. Would they check their sin in its beginning buds? Would they be more vigilant over their own souls and not just the souls of others? When did they stop consuming the Scriptures for their personal hearts instead of just checking it off a to-do list or to prepare for a sermon or Bible Study? When did that first dishonorable thought refuse to be brought under the Spirit’s control? When did the horror of a particular sin become a thing to cherish in the mind and eventually an action? Rarely, perhaps never, is a grievous sin in a believer who is faithfully walking in love and obedience, a quick thing. It results from a mind and heart continually left unchecked.
Don’t for a minute think that we girls are off the hook because we are not tempted like some pastors or leaders or ordinary men have been tempted because women certainly can fall in like areas also. Adultery, pornography, embezzlement, and the like. But sin is usually more subtle than this. Materialism–just one more unsatisfying item bought. Anger and bitterness–you don’t know what I’ve had to put up with. Ruining reputations with our tongues–cutting to shreds with our lips those made in His image. Food. Even making idols of good things (children, spouses, grades, jobs, clean houses) so they become our god rather than worshipping our God.
Oh, Father, may my private, inward life match my outward profession. Remind me, as the old Puritan wrote in his prayer, “I have often loved darkness, observed lying vanities, forsaken Thy given mercies, trampled underfoot Thy beloved Son, mocked Thy providences, flattered Thee with my lips, broken Thy covenant. It is of Thy compassion that I am not consumed.” May I hate my sin more than I despise the sin of others, prays my pastor. “Sin is always crouching at the door,” God warns Cain. Peter’s sober admonition is that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion intent on devouring God’s own children. Check that sin. Stop it. Do not allow it to encroach and grow. Wage war against it. That is the battle of the faithful life. Do not fight this war with broken down walls allowing easy entry for the enemy of our souls. Build those walls, not with twigs and sticks and branches but with bricks and mortar and steel, partaking of His ammunition, His building blocks, His means of grace…the Word, prayer, the Lord’s Supper, fellowship with godly people, worship. You must not neglect these or you cannot, will not, stand. You cannot love the world and its things and its friendships and love God at the same time.
We are unable to do this in our own strength. Let God’s Word have its way with you. Pray. Do not dismiss the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Repent. Hold on to Christ for all you’re worth, and in the clinging, you will discover He is holding you in His strong hands and will not let His very own child go.
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” Look at Jesus daily in His Word and become like Him.
May we finish well, loyal and steadfast to the end of this life, until we are ushered into His presence because of His faithfulness to us. May our epitaphs read, “The faithful God kept her faithful.”