It’s easy as a Christian to be jaded about the world. All around us, we see injustice and sliding morals. It can seem as if there is no help for society. It’s also easy, when comparing the Church to the world around us, for Christians to feel somewhat “cocky” about our moral standing. After all, we’re God’s people, salt and light and all that. The world should listen to us! In this way, we’re like the kings of Judah, with pagan nations surrounding them and the backslidden Israelites up north (2 Kings 14).
But Judah’s kings were hardly heroes. Even when these rulers followed God, which was more often the exception rather than the rule, they didn’t follow Him wholeheartedly. Amaziah, for instance, “did what was right in the LORD’s sight, but not like his ancestor David” (2 Kings 14:3, emphasis mine). Each of Judah’s kings failed to eradicate false worship in the land. What led to their half-hearted devotion? Pride! After defeating Edom, King Amaziah flexed his bravado and challenged the northern kingdom to war. Jehoash, his evil Israelite counterpart, tried to be a voice of reason, rebuking Amaziah: “You have indeed defeated Edom, and you have become overconfident. Enjoy your glory and stay at home. Why should you stir up such trouble that you fall—you and Judah with you?” (v.10). Amaziah didn’t listen, so Judah was routed before Israel in battle (v.12).
When we judge our neighbors’ sins but fail to repent from our own pride, we’re like the cocky kings of Judah. Before we attempt to brush the sawdust from our neighbor’s face, we need to remove the log that has impaled our own (Matthew 7:3–5). Christians are called to be more concerned about our own sin than we are of the world’s sins. We must believe that but for the grace of God, we’re capable of any failure. And when we see brokenness in the world, we mustn’t stand at a distance and snub our noses. Instead, we’re called to move toward the hurting, to move toward sinners (Luke 5:32).
What can motivate such humility and love? It’s confidence that God is working even in the midst of great evil. Did you notice in these chapters what God does in Israel—not in Judah, but in terrible Israel? He fulfills prophecies and promises (2 Kings 14:25; 15:12). Though there is unthinkable evil at the hands of Israelite anarchy, God preserved the backslidden nation by holding back exile (vv.16,19–20). You see, “the LORD saw that the affliction of Israel was very bitter,” and in His compassion, “he delivered them” (2 Kings 14:26–27). It’s easy to forget that God loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. Even when we were His enemies, Christ spoke life into us. How can we not be confident that He’ll love our broken world the same way?
Written by Jared Kennedy