2 Kings 17:15 They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.
I was struck by this wording in the NIV, and when I read the Japanese it was essentially identical. We often say things like, “You are what you eat,” but it is certainly no less true that you become like what you follow. That’s the whole idea behind apprenticeships and the like. Learning by doing is a very deep principle indeed. It is when we follow the Lord in loving, grateful obedience that we are transformed into the likeness of His Son. (Romans 8:29) God is always leading us, but the question is whether we are following. Every parent has experienced thinking their child was right behind them and then suddenly realizing the child had gone off somewhere else entirely. We do that to God! God is never unaware or taken by surprise the way we are, but that doesn’t mean He is pleased or that we don’t suffer the consequences for not following. Many songs have been written on this theme, and several years ago I added one to the count:
What does God desire of His people
for the life of happiness He’s planned?
Just to trust the Lord in all you think and do,
and follow every leading of His hand.
Lord, I choose to trust You and to follow,
surrendering my life in every way.
Lead me, Lord, for I am prone to wander.
Lord, I choose to trust You, and obey.
So far the Lord hasn’t given me a good tune for those lyrics, but He has given me the Japanese in the same rhythm, so I trust that someday those lyrics will be sung in both languages. That said, singing is good but is no substitute for doing. This passage in 2 Kings lists all the things the people did that separated them from God. They probably said all the right things at the right times in their festivals and such, but God was watching their actions as expressing their hearts. It has been shown statistically that the majority of self-professed Christians, in the US at least, live lives that are essentially no different from anyone else. Given the state of society, that can hardly be called following Christ! As James said, failing to apply the truth we know is just fooling ourselves. (James 1:22) Jesus was clear that sin starts in the heart, (Matthew 15:18) but temptation in itself isn’t sin. After all, Jesus Himself was tempted. We need to examine our hearts and examine our lives in the light of the Scripture and the Holy Spirit, so that we will indeed not deceive ourselves but follow Christ fully, for our blessing and His glory.
Naturally, I’m talking to myself. I’ve had times when I was following closely and times when I was essentially ignoring God, all the while thinking I was a fine Christian. As I wrote years ago, I am prone to wander, so I’ve got to choose to trust and obey, regardless of what the world, my flesh, and the devil have to say about it.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your incredible grace and patience toward me. May I indeed live out the truth I know, walking in consistent obedience, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!