How can someone who started well, end up so wicked? Guided by wise Jehoiada, King Joash ruled uprightly. Sadly, when Jehoiada grew old and passed away, the king was not prepared to lead. He abandoned the temple he restored and worshiped other gods. His true colors came out. I could not help but ask if my own mentors move on, what would my colors be? Would I press on in the Lord?
The story does not reveal why Joash failed to develop into a righteous leader but it implies a few things that have made me once again, stop and examine my own walk with the Lord.
First observation. Even if I have a godly mentor, it does not necessarily mean that I am godly as well. Though godly mentors are crucial to spiritual growth, it is not the only factor at play. Apparently many of Joash’s choices were really Jehoiada’s and not his. Joash’s behavior shows that he was more committed to his mentor than he was to God Himself. He behaved to please man rather than God. Perhaps being in a position of leadership and distracted by the affairs of his kingdom, one can get easily derailed. He became more focused on the kingdom than on the true King and His heart.
Similarly, if one is born in a Christian home, it is not automatic that one will embrace the same beliefs. It can be easily taken for granted and assumed that children will inherit the faith. But, each one needs a personal encounter with Christ for true transformation to take place. As one surrenders to the lordship of Jesus, one begins his or her journey of falling in love with Christ through His word. Only “In Christ, we are a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.”
Second observation. Jehoiada, already a priest, was not able to pass on to Joash his faith. He was not able to win Joash’s heart for God. Was Joash just complying to please Jehoiada? I wonder why again. Could there have been a gap between Jehoiada’s intention and his actions? How intentional was he in training Joash?
I may be a host of The 700 Club Asia but am I intentionally reaching out to those God assigns and making an impact in their lives for Christ? I can be blinded by a thriving public ministry and neglect the more important, private one.
As a mom, for instance, I naturally care for my children but do I make time to teach them about the Lord and his ways, on a regular basis? Do I share His word with them and do they see me apply it in my life? This requires time, even the discipline to say, “NO” to other activities to protect family time. Are they really excited about the Lord or are they just going through the motions to please me? And when I am gone, what will their colors be? Will they continue to choose Jesus?
Last observation. Those who start well don’t necessarily end well. There are many kings under this category in Scripture, however, I have a particular attachment to the story of Joash because we have a children’s storybook that talks about his fairytale-like beginning: crowned at age seven. My kids marveled at how he was protected from his evil grandmother, Athalia and how Joash began his reign so early. I had no idea back then that he did not finish well. Now I have an idea of what may have been behind his downfall. And honestly, it causes me grief and concern.
With the US government shut-down, the Zamboanga conflict, successive earthquakes including those in the Visayas, it is a comfort to hear the Lord’s reminder, “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2) I share my nephew’s thoughts which he posted in FB, “The world is not itself lately. Be brave. Be strong.”
Despite all the sad news, the distractions, it is my heart’s cry to finish well. The key to being brave and being strong is found not in more activity, but in being still and knowing God’s strength and courage. Let these trying times be a call to prayerfulness and in the dark, I pray our lives will display colors pleasing to the Lord. I am grateful that the Lord reveals to us how this is possible in Hebrews 12:2, “Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith.”