8 He (the Lord) has told you, O man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 ESV
Upon his return to Judah after a narrow escape from death resulting from his unwise alliance with King Ahab, Jehoshaphat had a personal awakening. As a boss of mine once warned me, “Don’t make the same mistake twice”, and Jehoshaphat certainly did not.
God had judged Ahab on the battlefield. A random arrow fired by an enemy soldier landed right between his protective armor plates and led to his death. He had set up Jehoshaphat to be killed in his place by having him be the only one in his army dressed in king’s robes, but the Lord spared him.
After a stern warning from his own prophet, Jehoshaphat began a new mission in life – enlarge faithful Judah and heal it from the inside by focusing on establishing a holy justice for all.
4 Jehoshaphat lived at Jerusalem. And he went out again among the people, from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim, and brought them back to the Lord, the God of their fathers. 5 He appointed judges in the land in all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, “Consider what you do, for you judge not for man but for the Lord. He is with you in giving judgment. 7 Now then, let the fear of the Lord be upon you. Be careful what you do, for there is no injustice with the Lord our God, or partiality or taking bribes.” 2 Chronicles 19:4-7 ESV
Jehoshaphat wanted the people of Judah to focus on a few simple things that were pleasing to God. The first of these was to do justice to other people. He wanted it to begin in Judah’s court system, a system that apparently had been unfairly influenced by prejudice and financial corruption. This is the exactly the type of thing that the Lord was seeking from Jehoshaphat, rather than aligning with King Ahab in an unwise battle.
Following God’s will is simple, but rarely easy. We are often tempted to take more than our share of just about anything. At our heart’s core, we do not have the nature of God, and are often focused on our own self-interests. But when we seek the Lord and invite Jesus Christ into our hearts, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our body, the temple of God, and begins a life-long reclamation project on the heart and soul.
But still, we fail on a regular basis. For instance, it is quite easy for me to get angry when someone has shown me a lack of respect in some form or fashion. I immediately have the desire to retaliate for even the most minor of transgressions. This recently happened when someone blasted a loud car horn at me for my own minor infraction – I was at fault. But still, the anger stirred up inside me, and I forgot for a few minutes who I am in God and that I am supposed to love my brother and sister.
Once I cooled down, I felt bad for my raw emotions and unchristian thoughts. I forgot the simple things that God actually wants from me:
- Love Justice. I was completely at fault. I caused the problem.
- Love Kindness. When this type of thing happens, get out of the way, and cool down. Be nice again, as quickly as possible. This may take some time.
- Walk humbly with your God.
The humility part did not hit me until a couple of days later while I was listening to a Christian radio program:
The speaker talked of Jesus as He suffered before and during His crucifixion. Jesus did not seek revenge, even as people were whipping Him or pushing a painful crown of thorns into His head. He was totally innocent, but suffered through it without repercussion.
Jesus was then crucified with nails driven through His hands and feet, yet did not despise or curse His tormentors. Instead, He said, “Father, forgive them, they do know not what they are doing.”
It was the image of the crown of thorns that got my attention at that moment. They pushed the thorns into His head to the point of bleeding. Would this not be far more painful than the hurt pride of a blasting car horn? Indeed it would. Yet Jesus did not retaliate. Couldn’t I withhold my anger or scorn?
I will try to remember the thorns the next time I am tempted to respond with anger to an offense. God, help me to do so!
In what areas do you struggle to have a heart like God? (Anger is only one of several of my shortcomings).
When we fail, we confess our sins to God and, if possible, make amends to anyone we have hurt. We seek spiritual growth through Him – progress, not perfection. We are living a blessed and good life of joy and hope in Him as we undergo a continuous spiritual reconstruction and seek to follow in His footsteps.
Lord, thank you for giving us Your Holy Spirit in our hearts when we turn to Jesus. Change our hearts from the inside so that, over time, we become more and more like You in our daily lives. Grant us grace and charity whenever we find ourselves in situations of stress, hurt pride or an offense. Help us to love those who who come against us through Your divine nature. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.