A Cycle of Selfishness

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Impatience lies at the root of many spiritual problems. Some issue comes to the fore, and it seems like people readily accept any solution proffered. This tendency leads to the implementation of programs and policies before a thorough analysis, often in the face of those who encourage caution, restraint, and greater study. The complaint “we aren’t growing like we ought to be” and its companion “we are losing our young people” have formed the foundation for numerous departures from truth simply because people impatient with material results soon lose their spiritual identity. 

When Baasha closed Israel’s borders to keep the people from traveling to Judah (2 Chr. 16:1), Asa attempted to solve the issue through a political alliance with Syria (2 Chr. 16:2-3). This produced immediate results in the short term exactly in line with Asa’s wishes (2 Chr. 16:4-6); however, his impatience had created a larger, long-term problem. The LORD sent Hanani to Asa condemning him “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the LORD your God…” (2 Chr. 16:7). Thus, the LORD withdrew His protective hand, and Judah faced a time of war instead of enjoying a time of peace (2 Chr. 16:8-9). Asa, who had done so much right in his reign, then became angry at this criticism and imprisoned the prophet and oppressed some of the people (2 Chr. 16:10). Indeed, this had such a lasting impact on Asa’s attitude that he did not turn to the LORD even when his health suffered four years later (2 Chr. 16:11-12). Two years afterwards, Asa died and was mourned greatly in Judah (2 Chr. 16:13-14), but he tarnished his spiritual legacy because of how he responded to a problem.

The temptation to find a worldly solution to a spiritual problem has perpetually plagued the LORD’s people. No matter what generation, what culture, or what people, the temptation to borrow the world’s solutions to improve spiritual situations has proven too great for many. As Hanani explained to Asa, if the process did not please God, do not fool yourself into thinking the results are a success. We have no right to judge worship by how much worldly people enjoy it. We have no right to judge growth by how many worldly people we accept into our midst. We have no right to judge church activities by whether worldly people are sufficiently entertained. To do so is to congratulate ourselves for a lack of faith—which we surely do not want to advertise. However, should someone point out this particular problem, an angry response often follows. People blame the messenger, ostracize those who oppose their innovations, and then, growing bitter, selfishly rely on themselves more than God even more. It is an ugly cycle that only diligent attention to patience and faith can correct—with a lot more biblical inspection and personal introspection (Rom. 4:3; 2 Cor. 13:5).

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