As I See Fit
“Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD had compassion on them as they groaned under those who oppressed and afflicted them. But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their fathers, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” –Judges 2:18-19, NIV
The book of Judges reminds me of parenting. How many times did I ask one of my children to apologize to a sibling, a friend, me? A thousand? And how many of those apologies were from the heart? Two? Three, maybe? They’d been caught doing or saying something they shouldn’t, and they took their punishment and made their apology just to turn around and do the same thing another time.
The point is that sometimes we get in trouble and we’re really sorry we got in trouble, but we’re not really sorry we did the deed.
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD is repeated over and over throughout Judges. Another repeated phrase is: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit”(Judges 21:25, NIV). I feel like we could substitute America for Israel. It seems to be the norm to do what is right in our own eyes. I’m just supposed to be okay with everyone deciding for themselves what is right and wrong.
Well, I’m not.
We need to pray for this nation and its leaders. Especially the President. You don’t have to like him to pray for him. Can you imagine the difference it would make if our President was a true believer? Not just someone who “believes in God” but someone with a personal relationship with Christ. A person who prayed over decisions? Maybe God would bless us again, as a nation, for a time. That’s what happened with Israel.
God would hear their pleas for mercy, send them a judge, they’d straighten up for a while and he’d bless them for it. Then that judge would die, and they’d go right back to sinning, so God would turn his back on them.
You know what the definition of hell is? Complete separation from God. When God turned his back on the Israelites it wasn’t as bad as hell, but it came pretty close. Yet, that’s what it took for them to turn back to him and cry out for help. And maybe they believed in their apologies, their repentance. Maybe some of them truly repented. But, if so, why did they give up on God so easily when things were going their way?
Prosperity breeds pride, and pride breeds self-righteousness. When we are happy, it’s so easy to believe that it’s because we’re so smart and wonderful and deserving.
We don’t think we need a Savior during those times.
But that’s when we need him the most.
We need a Savior to remind us that tolerance leads us to spiral into disobedience as we slowly relinquish our standards to accommodate non-believers. (“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you,” Gal. 5:7-8, NIV.)
We need a Savior to fix our eyes on, so that we have hope and strength and path to stay on. (“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,” Eph. 2:10, NIV.)
We need a Savior so that we remember what is important and don’t make idols of our money and stuff and loved ones. (“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins,” Col. 1:13-14, NIV.)
We need a Savior to remind us that we are not worthy of the sacrifice he made for us, but because of it, we have a home with him. This is not our home. So, we shouldn’t give our love to it. (“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” 1 John 2:15, NIV.)
The Israelites wanted a judge or a prophet or a king to be their savior. But these men couldn’t save them. They could lead them in the right direction, for a time, but they couldn’t change their hearts.
There’s only one Savior that can do that. That’s how Judges points us to Jesus.
Even though I knew my kids weren’t always genuine in their apologies, I still made them do it. That’s how I taught them that there are consequences to disobedience. We can’t do what’s right in our own eyes. We are very slow learners when it comes to humbling ourselves. So, if it takes 500 fake apologies to get one genuine one, that’s what we do.
We can’t see what’s right in God’s eyes, if we fix our eyes on anything but our Savior.
With Love in Christ,