I have been a father now for over 13 years. That's rather scary, really. In all sincerity though, I'm not afraid of the teen years; I enjoy my children more with every year that passes. I probably inherited that quality from my father since I have heard him say that he much prefers children when they are older to when they are younger. Now, don't get Dad and I wrong: we loved (and love) our kids while they were younger but we just appreciate the ability to reason with them, to have a conversation with them that is deeper than "No, don't put your toes in that!"
I've also noticed that I have learned a lot from my children in the last 13 years. Sometimes, I have learned from observing their behaviour. Other times, I have learned from observing mine. Many times, I have learned from listening to the instructions I give to them. Let me give you one such example that I have said to every one of my children at different times.
Maybe you can relate to this. Little Johnny is twirling around in circles in the middle of the living room. As if that's not bad enough, he happens to be holding a rope in one hand and the other end is tied to the leg of a terrified teddy bear. If you're a parent, or at least, if you have matured beyond the point of doing this yourself, you already see the danger coming! As surely as sparks fly upward, that teddy bear crashes into a lamp on the table, sending it flying into the glass candle holder and both of them come smashing down onto the hardwood floor, leaving scratches in the nice wood and spreading wonderful glassy cheer all over the living room. As your jaw drops to the floor, you hear yourself yell "Johnny, what did you do?" to which Johnny, faithfully, answers "I didn't try to do it!"
It's true. Johnny didn't set out to break the lamp or the candle holder and Johnny didn't plan on scratching up the hardwood floor. Johnny didn't even have a diabolical plan in the back of his mind that involved making more work for you. But all of those things did happen. Johnny didn't try to cause the damage but he also didn't try not to. That's what I have frequently found myself saying to my kids; "I know you didn't try to do it, but you didn't try not to do it either, did you?"
This morning, I was reading 1 Kings 11 in my devotions. That is the chapter that records the death of King Solomon. He was the wisest man to have ever walked this earth (except Jesus, of course.) But in the end of his life, the Bible records that "Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord" (1 Kings 11:6). What had he done? According to the Bible, Solomon had fallen into idolatry.
"For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem." - 1 Kings 11:5-7
The methods of worshipping these false gods were disgusting. In fact, they involved sexual immorality and burning their children as sacrifices. But the problem was, mainly, that they were not God and Solomon was worshipping them. He was guilty of idolatry. How did that happen? How did the son of David fall this far? How did the God-appointed heir to the throne, who built the Temple for the God of Israel fall into idolatry? If you could have asked him, he probably would have said "I didn't try to fall into idolatry!"
No. He probably didn't. But he didn't try not to either. You see, the reason that Solomon had fallen into idolatry is recorded in verse four, just prior to the above passage. It says, "And his wives turned away his heart." That was the problem. Solomon had "700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines." They were from all sorts of nations with different gods - they were Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites and maybe others as well. Solomon married women who did not worship God. The problem is that God had warned that this is precisely what would happen to those who married foreign women.
"You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly." - Deuteronomy 7:3,4
You see, Solomon should have known better than to marry women from other nations (not to mention marrying so many of them). Because of his obsession with women (which probably indicates a tendency to sexual sin) he allowed himself to disregard a command of God. He probably thought that, being the wisest man on earth, he would be able to keep himself from idolatry. It didn't work. Solomon married foreign wives who pressured him into worshipping other gods and 1 Kings 11:8 says "so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods."
You see, Solomon didn't try to fall into idolatry, but he didn't try not to either. If he had tried not to, he would have avoided a situation that would cause him to be subjected to pressures to sin. If little Johnny had tried not to break things, he would have avoided the situation by behaving differently. What about you? You probably aren't trying to sin (I hope). But are you trying not to?
As a parent, and one who realizes how much I am like my parents, I wonder how much my children will end up like me? So what am I showing them? If I keep having to say to them "No, you didn't try to but you didn't try not to either," maybe I should take a look at my life and see if I am actually trying not to sin. If I do, maybe my God will enjoy me all the more as I grow as a Christian. What about you? Do you have kids? Do you hear the same phrase from them?
- Pastor Mike
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9:45 a.m. Sunday Morning Bible Study
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