Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.'” 1 Kings 20:11
Ben Hadad has invaded Israel, sieged Samaria and had 32 kings with him. These were most likely the kings of the northern city states. They would have sided with Ben Hadad to secure their own financial interest and safety which depended upon the power and influence of Ben Hadad and Syria.
When sin/the world/the devil attacks there is a strong coalition that works against you. There is the one great force but many lesser forces pushing us towards defeat. When it comes to our bad behaviors the lesser forces that drive us to sin are called triggers.
We spend time often identifying triggers that cause our failures. The things that trigger our behavior seem to do what they do to protect their own interest. These triggers may be a part of the pattern that we go through in life. The places we go, the people we see, the things we do. They may be something inside of our heart and mind that grew from our past circumstance that can presently control us. Ultimately a trigger is the lesser force trying to win control for the greater force, the world, sin, the devil.
The army set up their camp around Samaria and Ben Hadad sent his messenger with the demands. The demands were steep. Ahab, when he heard the messenger say, this is what the king says, he could have responded with this is what the Lord says. But Ahab did not do this. He relented, he surrendered all that was requested of him to Ben Hadad.
In those moment where we feel surrounded by temptation, we feel sins demands tugging at our heart and soul and we are overwhelmed; what do we do? The world makes its demands and it will cost us time, friends, family, resources; some if not all of that we call precious and valuable in our life.
In this moment when the decision has to be made. Are we looking to the lord or are we looking to self? Who have you surrendered all too — the world or the Lord? Romans 10:13 tells us — For whosoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved.
Out of Ben Hadad’s greed and pride, he made a second demand. What would have provoked King Ben Hadad to go back and make such a demand? Could it have been the fact that it was too easy to take the wives and children of Ahab? Why would he not think that it would be easy to take more?
When living a life in sin, a life without being in Christ, our priorities will get out of line with what is right. Ahab had no problem when he lost his wives and children, but don’t touch his stuff. The material possessions that he had in the castle is where he drew the line.
Sin sows the seed of confusion in our heart and mind. Sin is great at deceiving us and leading us to a misunderstanding of what is and what is not valuable in our life. Our decisions will continue to reflect this misunderstanding as we burn bridges, lose loved ones and fail to acknowledge the loneliness that sin truly brings.
When you finally stand up to sin, sin will fight back with great vengeance. Sin does not want to leave, it does not want to lose the ground it has gained and wants to keep a hold of all that it possess while continuously trying to conquer more and more. Sin is greedy, sin is relentless, sin is impartial, sin is determined and sin is out to take over.
We have a Holy Spirit who convicts us for a reason, we have the tough words of God that demand change from us for a reason; we have a Lord who died for us for a reason. The reason is sin is never o.k., it is never acceptable to a pure, holy, righteous God.
The bible is not about merely self-help. The bible is about change. Changing our life to conform it to Christ likeness, to conform to the word of God, to yield to the Holy Spirit. The Self-help approach just helps ourselves to excuses for our unrighteous behavior, it helps us find self-justification for our immoral thoughts and deeds, and it helps ourselves continue in sin.
God demands a change, God demands repentance, turning away from sin and turning back to God. Don’t think for a moment that you can continue in sin and all will be ok. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, repent and turn back to God.
(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)