Trust and Obey (Read 2 Chronicles 14:2-11; 16:1-9)
Some truths I learn only the hard way! In ministry, the “means” i.e. what we use to get things done – does matter! The end does not justify the use of any or every means. Moreover, if the end has to glorify God, the means must consistently honor Him! This is not philosophical truth but biblical and thoroughly practical. God has made absolutely clear the only means that pleases Him – faith! A total trust that becomes obvious through an unmistakable allegiance and implicit obedience to God, and God alone! This is the only way to engage with and prove Him. Let me explain using the story of king Asa of Judah:
Young Asa started out well! He openly and boldly made the Lord his God. He feared God with all his heart so he tore down every idol of foreign gods. He always did only what was right in God’s sight. That’s what faith looks like! Such exercise of faith, works! It’s the means or way to please and bring God glory! Trust is essentially a relationship. Authentic faith is always tested by trials and temptations. The value and genuineness of trust is proven and developed in and through tough times! The nation of Judah is surrounded by an army of a million men and 300 chariots ready to attack! How will Asa respond as their leader?
Asa turns to God and publicly shows his utter reliance on Him alone, through the believer’s most basic means – prayer! He cries out to God. Like a powerless child to a father able to help; to do anything! Note: God is Asa’s first response not last resort! He rallies the nation and calls on God’s strong name and gracious nature to deliver, guide and provide. By this means, Asa demonstrates his dependence on his singular source and resource in trouble – faith in God almighty. He is shipwrecked on faith, stranded on omnipotence. God always rescues all who trust Him. For 20 years the nation enjoys God’s peace, security and prosperity!
Now we return to our propositional truth: “for the end to glorify God the means must consistently honor Him!” Believers are not just justified by faith alone, they are the just who keep living by faith day-by-day! Ours is a crucified self, lived out by faith more literally, by the faithfulness of God’s Son who loved us and gave Himself for us. The means of trusting is unending! For years my daily twofold prayer has been, “Lord, keep me clean today, and use me for your glory” to which I have added a third part, “Lord, help me to finish well!”
There are numerous examples of believers who started well but did not finish well. Asa is typical. Baasha, king of Israel in the north, attacks Asa and puts a siege on Judah. After experiencing God’s faithfulness for over 20 years, how will Asa respond? With his supplies cut off, Asa is fearful of his enemy. The eyes of his heart are no longer on God. This time, he figures it out for himself. He turns and cries for help from Aram the king of Syria. Aram advances toward Israel, Baasha retreats from Asa, Judah is secure and all is well, right? Wrong!
In all this, Asa establishes where his faith now lies and the kind of means he relies on. He gained an earthly ally but lost his simple trust in God almighty. His allegiance with a worldly king signified the source of his strength. He failed to rely on, lost his faith in, and created enmity with his God. God is not pleased with the means Asa trusted in – his own wisdom, human might, in the number of horse chariots! God calls this “a foolish thing” and due to his lack of faith declares that Asa from now on will be at war! (16:7-9)
Relying on human rather than divine, promised and proven, resources is not of faith and is pronounced as sin (Rom. 14:23) Like Asa, believers tend to forget all God’s benefits, lean on their own understanding only to bring disgrace and defeat to themselves. Our measure of being “successful” makes us think we are powerful and we become prideful. Our ‘new’ modern means becomes our education, experience and expertise! We abandon trust in God, put confidence in our flesh, in others and become independent, even of God!
The way back up is down. We must humble ourselves, repent from pride and ask God to deliver us from ourselves! Let’s show our trust in the Lord by not leaning on our own insights and sufficiency in God by not fretting when people or trials threaten us. Evidently only one means ultimately pleases God – faith in His own enabling viz. grace! We glorify God by acknowledging and applying ordained “means of grace” – trust, evidenced by unflinching confidence in prayer to God, and unreserved obedience, in daily living out God’s word!
But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the altar we lay, for the favor he shows and the joy he bestows are for them who will trust and obey!