March 08, 2021

Because I Want It

 Devotion for the Week...

For the past few months, Zach has been getting up early a few mornings a week to do a strength workout before he gets ready for school. He doesn't have a coach telling him to do it or anyone checking in to make sure he's keeping to a schedule. He's doing it because he wants to, even though it's hard to drag himself out of bed most mornings. I'm impressed by his dedication. You can be sure that I was not getting up early to do a workout when I was in high school! 

Pursuing something just to make someone else happy doesn't usually result in success. But pursuing something because I want it makes all the difference. We'll worker harder and cling tighter to something when the motivation comes from within.

Consider the example of King Joash, who ruled in Jerusalem. Joash was raised by Jehoiada the priest and his wife, Jehosheba, after Joash's grandmother Athaliah went on a murderous rampage, killing her own family members so she could make herself queen. (Side note - What kind of grandmother is that??) Joash was smuggled out by Jehosheba and raised in secret in the Temple (2 Chronicles 22:10-12). Joash was about a year old when Jehosheba took him to the Temple, so the priest and his wife were really the only parents he knew.

Six years later, Jehoiada arranged a revolt against Athaliah that ended her reign and put 7 year old Joash on the throne (see 2 Chronicles 23). The next chapter tells us that "Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest" (2 Chronicles 24:2). Unfortunately, "after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and bowed before King Joash and persuaded him to listen to their advice. They decided to abandon the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they worshiped Asherah poles and idols instead! Because of this sin, divine anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem" (vv. 17-18). 

Then God sent Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada and Jehosheba (essentially Joash's adopted brother), as a prophet to condemn what Joash and the leaders were doing, so "the leaders plotted to kill Zechariah, and King Joash ordered that they stone him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s Temple (v. 21). Talk about doing a 180° turn!

This is the story of someone who served God only because of an external motivating force. In this case, it was Jehoiada's influence that kept Joash focused on God. Joash had no relationship of his own with God, so when Jehoiada's influence was gone, so was Joash's interest in God.

I wonder if Joash realized that he was only doing things God's way to make Jehoiada happy, or if he thought he was serving God for himself. This is why it's important to look at our own motivation for serving God. Do we go to church only because people expect us to be there? Do we read the Bible only when someone will see us with it in our hands? Or are we pursuing a relationship with Him because we want it?
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him |
If our motivation to serve God is rooted in making some other person happy, or making them proud of us, or not hurting their feelings, what will happen to our relationship with God when that person is no longer around? It will likely vanish just as easily as Joash's did.

What a difference it makes if, on the other hand, we pursue a relationship with Him because we want it! Then we will be strong and rooted in Him, not blown about by the winds of changing circumstances.

"Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong" (Ephesians 3:17).

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