Black, White, and Murky Gray

Life is not always black and white. There are “bad” people who sometimes do good deeds. And there are “good” people who perform wrong and unkind actions. II Chronicles 14-16 tells the story of King Asa who started his reign in righteousness. He trusted in God in times of great trial and performed courageous acts of faith and reformation deposing his own grandmother (or possibly his mother) as Queen Mother because of her horrid idolatry.  In II Chronicles 15:17 the Scriptures record, “Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.”  Yet Chapter 16 records foolish, angry, oppressive and stubborn actions from King Asa.  He bribes a pagan king to make a defense treaty with him which seems to accomplish what he wants but earns a rebuke from God through Hanani the seer.  Angered by the seer, Asa puts him in prison and oppresses some of the people.

Using human wisdom and strategy seemed to achieve the short-term result he sought, but the cost on his character was devastating.  Instead of repenting at the rebuke, Asa punishes the messenger and the people.  Even in severe illness he refuses to call on God.  And the peace was short term because he is promised “from now on you will surely have wars.”  Human strategies may bring short-term relief from stress but only battles fought in God’s strength bring true peace and relief.

Yet the scripture says, “Never the less Asa’s heart was blameless all his days.”  How can it say that with such an ignoble ending to his life?

It reminds me of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, a church which is full of problems and whom he later calls carnal, acting like mere men (men who don’t know God).  He addresses them as “the Church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling”, (I Corinthian 1:2).

The Christians in Corinth, King Asa and even we can receive a new heart with new goals and yet fall back into living through the means of the flesh.  A Christian who has received a new heart but is living in the flesh looks and acts very much like one who has never experienced regeneration.

I John shows us the qualities of a Christian who is walking with God.  As we observe what that person looks like and does not look like, let it motivate us to not be complacent in our walk.  We don’t want to start well and fizzle out even if we know we have eternal life.  We want to end well because of our love and gratitude for what God has done for us and because even though our sin has already been judged in Jesus, our works are yet to be judged and we will be rewarded for deeds of love done in faith (I Cor. 3:13, II Cor. 5:10).  Romans 14:10-12 reminds us that we will have to give account of ourselves, not our brother, spouse, or neighbor.  So let us allow God’s Word to do the surgery we need in our own hearts (Heb. 4:12) and not resist His correction as Asa did.

Ken Boa writes, “It has been observed that the apostle Paul had only two days on his calendar: today and that day (the day he would stand before Christ), and he lived today in light of that day.” [1] If we adopted Paul’s calendar our lives would more clearly manifest the light, love and life of Christ and remove the murky gray that confuses so many.

Some things are black and white.  “He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son does not have life.” (I John 5:12) Some things are not so black and white.  Those who have the Son should manifest His life, but don’t always do so (Ephesians 4:17, 23, 24).  Christians sometimes live under the influence of the flesh and hurt others and grieve God (Gal. 3:3, Ephesians. 4:30).  Because of the marvelous grace and love that God has lavished on us, let us choose to walk in the power of the Spirit and be clean vessels that allow His light to shine through us.


Prayer Requests: For couples to heal from hurtful actions against each other; for children and adults to have an accurate view of our heavenly Father

[1] Kenneth Boa, “Conformed to His Image” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001); p141

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