2 Chronicles 19:4-11
People usually do not respond well to correction. This failure stems from our self-will, pride, and laziness, as well as other sources. A child might be intent on doing the same wrong action, even when mom and dad strive to set them on a proper path. Who of us as teenagers did not think that we knew more or understood our life better than our parents and teachers. We all can be very lazy, especially when it comes to reading the word. I try to encourage people to read the word together. For example, this week our assignment is to read Galatians three times. In the Bible in front of me, Galatians is only eight pages long. Eight pages times three equals 24 pages. Yet this can seem like climbing Mt. Everest to those that are, to put it bluntly, spiritually lazy and self-indulgent. All right, perhaps that bordered on being rough, but we all need some encouragement to become spiritually active, and not only in reading God’s word.
Jehoshaphat did respond well to the correction he received from the Lord through the prophet. Let’s look at two core components of his response. Jehoshaphat response flowed from God’s corrective encouragement to him.
- He turned from helping the wicked to restraining them through building up an effective legal system. To put this in biblical counseling lingo, Jehoshaphat did his homework. God gave him an idea, and he worked it out in his way of life.
- The values he built into them agreed with those of his heart that sought the Lord. Observe how he told the judges that they “are not judging for man but for the Lord” (19:6). He wanted the fear of the Lord to be on them (19:7), and he wanted them to “serve faithfully and wholeheartedly in the fear of the Lord” (19:9). Here was a good desire of Jehoshaphat: to reproduce godly values in his people. He wisely began with the leaders of the people, who in turn would be able to more directly influence the people. Most people are not convinced by broad public statements, but through private discussions with people committed to the right values.
We must seek constantly to build core biblical values into the spiritual DNA of everyone in our local gatherings of believers in Christ. Then when you leave your gathering, you should seek to reproduce those core biblical values in other people. Therefore, go out every week with the gospel, living it, telling it, and building groups or networks of people through the gospel. Picture your local body of Christ meeting on Sunday morning. At the end of the meeting, your gathering “sneezes”. We all go out carrying the message of the gospel to see it reproduced in the lives of others.
What attitudes and actions did Jehoshaphat desire to see develop in his people? He acted to build some core values into their spiritual DNA.
- He wanted them to judge carefully (19:6-7). Now a cynic might say, “How dare Jehoshaphat even say this, because of his careless alliance with Ahab? How dare he talk about judging carefully?” My friends, by God’s grace people can repent; that is, they can change their minds and then live in conformity with God’s truth. Jehoshaphat’s correction by the Lord provided him with a renewed perspective on life.
- He wanted them to serve as judges “for the Lord” (19:6). He desired them to think of God as their boss and final authority. This is essential for the way we live on our mission in the world (Colossians 3:17, 23). Whatever your job, you are Christ’s ambassador. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20 ESV).
- He wanted them to judge in conformity with God’s holy character (19:7). To do so is to be godly, or to use another New Testament idea, Christ-like. We go into the world to show the glory or surpassing worth of God. By not being unjust, partial, and by avoiding bribes, those judges would be godly; they would be acting like God.
- He wanted them to sense their accountability to God (19:7-10). They must serve in the fear of the Lord. Jehoshaphat had learned that God corrects those he loves. He wanted his officials to be mindful of this reality. God does correct, and we will give an account to him one day (Romans 14:11-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10). The Lord intends for the reality of judgment to spur us on in godly attitudes and actions.
- He wanted them to act with courage (19:11). Here Jehoshaphat drew on a rich stream of biblical exhortation (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:6-9; 1 Chronicles 28:20). Boldness is essential in serving the Lord (Acts 4:29, 31; cf. Ephesians 6:19-20; Philippians 1:20).
Here are five biblical values to build into your spiritual DNA and so see them reproduced in others. As you live a gospel-focused life, serve the Lord wisely, as an ambassador, godly, as one who must give account to God, and boldly.
What clashing desires are ripping you apart? Please take action today to come clean before the Lord. Be “your own Jehu” and write down what you know about yourself as you sit quietly in the presence of God. Though you have clashing desires and need to get them resolved in a godly way, where can you serve the Lord? You see, we really believe that we all have some messes in our lives, and that it is people in need of change that God uses to help people in need of change.
Grace and peace, David