Tag Archives: good intentions

April 7; Manipulation

Judges 21; I Chronicles 6:4-15; Ruth 1-2

They probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Sure, there were hard times in the Promised Land, a famine, food shortage. But it would appear Elimelech took the easy way out, picked up his family, and relocated to Moab, an unclean land where people worshiped idols. And God had made it clear His people were not to live with idolators.

But they had food.

Elimelech took care of the physical and placed the spiritual in jeopardy. His sons married Moabite women, something God said should never happen.

But they had food.

In the last chapter of Judges we see what happened after the Israelites nearly wiped out one of their own tribes, the Benjamites, for refusing to repent of a horrible sin. The dust settled, and the other eleven tribes began to feel guilty. There were so few Benjamite men left alive, and not enough Benjamite women to marry them and have Benjamite babies. Would that tribe disappear because of what they had done?

To complicate the matter, the eleven tribes had made a vow, in an emotional response to the blatant sin in Benjamin, that they – none of them – would ever give their daughters in marriage to any Benjamite man. Not ever.

Now that things had calmed down some, the eleven tribes began to think they’d gone too far. So they came up with a plan. If the Benjamin boys “took” some of their daughters for wives, it wouldn’t be like they “gave” them to them. They’d have wives, and the eleven tribes wouldn’t technically be breaking their vow.

Win. Win.

So the Israelite authorities devised a plan for them and the Benjamites to both get what they wanted without losing face.

I see a similarity in both stories, and something God is laying on my heart. The word “manipulation” comes to mind.

Maybe Elimelech looked like some great husband and father to his neighbors. After all, he gave up everything to take care of his family, leaving his home and taking them to places unknown for their own good. Did those neighbors tell each other what a great man Elimelech was because he’d do ANYTHING for his family?

But if you cut away all the dressing, the truth is Elimelech simply did not trust God in the bad times. He took matters in his own hands, maybe justified his choice to disobey God for the good of his family. Noble.

Is it okay for a person to sin for the right reasons?

The Israelites plan to repopulate the tribe of Benjamin involved kidnapping and rape.

Do the ends justify the means?

Can God be manipulated? (Is that even a real question?) I don’t ever want to live on the edge of obedience, or commit a sin while telling myself it’s for a good cause. God is not a fool.

I shouldn’t be, either.

A Good Heart

How many times have you heard or said: He (she) has a good heart? How do you know? An adulterer who takes in stray animals, a thief who volunteers to mow a neighbor’s lawn, a liar who takes meals to shut-ins. Does kindness or thoughtfulness indicate a good heart?

In Jeremiah 17:9&10, we read that the human heart is “the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked.” Who can know what is truly in a heart, what really motivates a person to do anything?

Only God.

God is not fooled by acts of charity when the charitable person is harboring hatred or evil, and is rejecting him. I might be fooled into thinking a person has a good heart, even into thinking he or she walks with God. But unless that heart has been broken over sin, unless that person has repented and accepted God’s forgiveness, that person is actually carrying around a desperately wicked heart, and Jeremiah reminds us God judges the heart.

You can put pearls on a pig, but it’s still a pig. You can put frosting on manure, but that doesn’t make it a birthday cake any more than a kind act gives an unsaved person a good heart.

Can non-believers be nice people, kind, and considerate? Of course they can. Satan is the master at making sin look good. But let’s not be fooled into thinking they are ok the way they are. Because “good” isn’t good enough! And an unrepentant heart is not a good heart.

God, I pray that each of us will take a good look at our own heart because that’s the only heart we can know. Your word tells us that without you, our hearts are desperately wicked. It also tells us you don’t judge our actions without judging our hearts. May our hearts be broken in light of our sin, may we bow before you in repentance, and may you turn our wicked hearts into good hearts. May we determine to obey your word today, and may others recognize that any goodness in us comes from you.

Where Good Intentions Lead

In 2 Samuel we read that Recab and Baanah had good intentions. Ishbosheth was David’s enemy so these two men risked their lives to kill Ishbosheth in his sleep. They cut off his head and proudly presented it to King David. I’m sure they expected a different reception than the one they got. 

David reminded them that it was the Lord who saves him from his enemies. Then he ordered his men to kill Recab and Baanah for being evil men who killed a man in his own bed.

That’s what will happen on judgement day. Some people will stand before God expecting a much different outcome than they will receive. 

“I worshiped Buddha with a pure heart”. “I attended church faithfully.” “I was faithful to my wife.” “I loved the earth and fought for the rights of abused animals.” “I never killed anyone.” “I didn’t go to church because there were hypocrites there.”

Whatever the excuse. Intentions will be meaningless. It’s like holding up the head of Ishbosheth. And the result will be the same.

Death.

Eternal separation from God. More agony than you’ve ever experienced.

The only thing that will matter on judgement day is whether or not Jesus is your Savior, if you have repented of sin, if you have accepted his grace.

Period.

Father, I pray for everyone who takes time to read this. May your Spirit draw them to you. May we all set aside the things we think we are doing for you, the rules we pride ourselves in obeying, our good intentions, and look to Jesus. He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and none of us will see heaven unless we accept his forgiveness. Thank you for what you are going to do in the hearts and lives of people today.

April 28

Psalms 16, 101, 2 Samuel 5:6-12, 17-25, 23:13-17, 6:1-11, I Chronicles 11:4-9, 14:8-17, I Chronicles 11:15-19, 13:1-14

It seemed harmless enough. In fact, it seemed like the right thing to do. Loving, even. The ark of the Lord looked like it was going to fall when the oxcart lurched so Uzzah simply reached out to steady it. What’s so bad about that?

Well, if we look back at God’s instructions concerning the ark we see that he established it as the place he would reside and that no one was to touch it. Ever. There were elaborate instructions using long poles so that those who carried the ark wouldn’t even come close. 

It wasn’t that Uzzah didn’t know that. But why couldn’t God overlook this one little act when it seemed so innocent? 

Uzzah disobeyed. Disobedience is sin. What happened to Uzzah was a direct result of his disobedience.

The lesson here is that God’s standards are black and white. I’m glad for that, actually. He doesn’t make life a guessing game. He spells it all out and we can trust him to stick with it.

Good intentions are meaningless if they result in sin. A loving act can be sinful if there is disobedience involved.

Dear friend, God cannot overlook sin no matter how we dress it up.

Holy God, I thank you that your word to us spells things out so clearly. Thank you that you are consistent, never changing. May we honor you today with obedience according to your word.