So if Jon Acuff can have Serious Wednesdays, so can I. Except that it’s Saturday. And it’s the day before Easter, so it’s cheesy. And it scares me to lay stuff like this out there, because what if a more mature super-Christian sees it and is like, oh, yeah, I used to think that but now I understand this other reason why you are totally wrong?
But this is something that’s been on my mind and heart for a while, and I feel a need to share it. I’ve been trying to read the Bible all the way through, and I’m using The Message Remix 2.0. And one thing I’ve been struck by this time is how many times it says even the good kings who followed God also followed in their predecessors’ footsteps by not getting rid of the worship of other gods. Today the author of Kings just came out and said it (of Amaziah):
He lived the way GOD wanted and did the right thing. But he didn’t come up to the standards of his ancestor David; instead he lived pretty much as his father Joash had; the local sex-and-religion shrines continued to stay in business with people frequenting them.
II Kings 14:3-4
We talk all the time about how David was a “man after God’s own heart,” despite the greatness of his sins. I think sometimes I tend to think of him as a kind of super-saint who just messed up the one time, but David actually had more flaws than just the biggies that we remember the best. He could be passive-aggressive. His later rule seems weak, despite his early successes. And his parenting skills left a lot to be desired.
This passage laid out what made David great. He couldn’t stand sin, particularly his own. I think he really understood the greatness of his sin and how it separated him from fellowship with his Creator, even better than many of us do from this side of the Cross. His repentant psalms still cry out with anguish over the things he had done. And it wasn’t just the big sins, either. David repented of taking a census. A census? Hardly cause for worry. Surely nothing like the adultery/murder incident. Not even worth mentioning, really. Maybe if you’re feeling really pious just a quick, “oh, and God, sorry about that census thing” before bed.
Amaziah’s problem (and that of all the other otherwise good kings of Judah) was that he allowed sin to continue where he had the power to stop it. It was a sin of omission, rather than a sin of commission. It’s not like he was worshiping at the shrines. He didn’t have the power to change the people’s hearts, but he did have the power to stop the worst of the blatant acts of abuse and idolatry.
Like Amaziah, I consider myself to be a pretty good person. But so often I find myself, also like Amaziah, refusing to do the thing that I know God is asking me to do. Like I think Amaziah may have been, I am far too worried about what others will think. Better to let people alone than to come across as overbearing or judgmental. Better to stay silent than to say the wrong thing, even if the Holy Spirit is nudging me so hard that I can hardly breathe. I might say something dumb. I might come across like one of those really weird religious people.
I used to think that Christian maturity was a matter of committing fewer sins of commission. That sins of omission were “little sins” that I could work on when I was a more godly person. But when I compare David and Amaziah, I’m not sure that’s such a good idea. By my standards, Amaziah seems like a better guy than David. But according to scripture, it’s David who was the man after God’s own heart. And I have a long way to go.