Proverbs 29:23 ARA
23 A man’s pride will bring him down, but the humble in spirit will gain honor.
The person who turns away from pride will be honored. To the world, what is valuable today may be despised tomorrow. Anyone who strives to please the world by adapting to current values may even be applauded and feel good today, but this does not hold up over time. That’s why God’s message for us today is: The values of the world are fleeting.
Let’s read two more introductory verses:
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
1Peter 1:14 NTLH
14 Be obedient to God and do not let your life be dominated by those desires you had when you were still ignorant.
In another version (ARA):
14 As children of obedience, do not conform yourselves to the passions which you formerly had in your ignorance;
Children of obedience are we Christians who submit to God.
Ignorance refers to when we didn’t know God’s principles.
It is necessary to watch our hearts and judge our wills, our desires, in light of the teachings and commandments of Jesus. To illustrate our reflection, let’s look at the story of King Ahab and his idolatry:
1 Kings 16:29-33
29Ahab the son of Omri began to reign in Israel in the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Asa king of Judah. He reigned in Samaria for 22 years. 30Ahab the son of Omri did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, worse than all the kings before him. 31And, as if it were not enough to follow the sinful example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and began to prostrate himself before Baal and worship him. 32First, Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria. 33Then he erected a statue for the goddess Asherah. He did more to provoke the wrath of the Lord God of Israel than all the kings of Israel before him.
Let’s highlight some aspects of this first excerpt:
Ahab reigned for 22 years: watch out brothers, it’s a long time. This will show us how what we do today may not have consequences tomorrow or next month, but it influences our lives in the long run, without realizing it.
“…married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians”: here begins the historical account. When he married a woman from another people, he became influenced by their customs. It’s okay if we’re talking about customs related to clothing, music, culture, but here the problem was that this woman brought the worship of their gods close to Ahab.
“…began to prostrate himself before Baal and worship him”: See here the consequence of approaching other gods. Ahab started to prostrate himself, this denotes that he still did not worship this god. I think he did it to please his wife. Here it would be time for him to do the opposite: influence Jezebel to worship the Lord, the true God. But he didn’t.
“…built a temple and an altar to Baal… Then he erected a statue for the goddess Asherah.”: now he has begun to demonstrate his worship with works in honor of false gods. How long after? We don’t know, but from the sequel we can think that it wasn’t something immediate. Notice brothers, the worship of false gods was implanted in the heart of Ahab as he gave way to such feeling.
If we do not watch and actively seek to let go of carnal desires, we will be further and further away from God. Our hearts will become harder and harder until we reach spiritual dryness.
King Ahab has reached this stage. He demonstrates this when he blames Elijah for the misfortunes of his kingdom, which he himself was guilty of through the sins he committed. Ahab shifts his blame to Elijah, for it was Elijah who prayed to stop the rains. Ahab didn’t realize that Elijah did this at the behest of God because of the sins of the king and the people. As he molded himself to Jezebel’s influence, he was totally blinded to the relationship between his sins and God’s wrath. The fashion of the kingdom was now to worship Baal and Asherah!
1 Kings 18: 17-18
17When Ahab saw him, he said, “Are you really a troublemaker of Israel?” 18“I didn’t cause Israel any trouble,” Elijah replied. “It is you and your family who are the troublemakers, for they refused to obey the Lord’s commandments and instead worshiped images of Baal.
Living trying to balance spiritual guidance and carnal desires is an intense struggle. As long as there is this struggle, our happiness is restricted, but God, with his infinite mercy, will always offer us opportunities to turn to Jesus. Our God, the true God, loves us. He doesn’t want us to be far from his presence. However, he respects our decision, as he has given us free will so that we can decide for ourselves whom we want to worship!
Glory to God!
So it was in Elijah’s time with regard to the people. The consequence of such affront to God made the Lord angry with the kingdom of Israel, because, by the example and strength of King Ahab, all the people were already converting to false gods, forgetting the true God. But God comes to rescue his people:
1 Kings 18:20-21
20Ahab called all the people of Israel and the prophets together to assemble on Mount Carmel. 21Elijah stood before the people and said: “How long will they be swaying from one side to the other? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow Baal!” The people, however, were silent.
The people do not respond because they are in doubt. How sad, brothers, when someone gets to this point of being in doubt whether he wants to worship the Lord or worship anything else! See that everything started with the approach between a man and a woman, and ended with a nation far from God!
Following this passage on Mount Carmel, Elijah calls the people to repentance and God shows His power by sending fire from heaven on the prepared sacrifice, accepting the people’s repentance.
It is necessary to watch. Let’s reflect on how we are dividing our time. How often do we think about God throughout our day? How many times, in times of anguish during the day, do we simply say “Lord, help me with this matter” instead of looking for various distractions? The worship of the Lord must be something spontaneous in our life. If you feel distant from God, take time out of your day to talk to him. In the beginning this is valid. As time goes by, you will feel closer to God and no longer need to “reserve” time in your schedule for Him, it will become something natural and you will find yourself talking to God at different and unexpected times. That’s when God finally starts taking the place of the world in your heart, in your mind.
During Ahab’s reign, under the influence of Jezebel, the people followed the fashion of worshiping Baal. However, this did not hold, as all gods created by man are false and transient. Some people are proud when they follow such trends, because they think that they are stronger and can become happy. This was true for those 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah and for Ahab, who was king for 22 years! But it’s over, because the only one who is immutable and who can really bring us full happiness is the Lord, the true God, through Jesus Christ our master and savior!
Glory to God!
In closing, I want to leave with you Peter’s words:
6Therefore, humble yourselves under the great power of God, and in due time he will exalt you. 7Give him all your anxieties, for he cares for you. 8Be aware! Beware of your great enemy, the devil, who walks like a roaring lion around you, looking for someone to devour. 9Stand firm against him and be strong in faith. Remember that your brothers in Christ all over the world are going through the same sufferings. 10God, in all his grace, called them to share in his eternal glory through Christ Jesus. So, after they have suffered for a little while, he will restore them, sustain and strengthen them, and put them on a firm foundation.
Lord God, thank you for this message of exhortation to trust in You. Thank you for opening our eyes to the need to watch, as we fail to notice when we are distancing ourselves from You. Bring us back Father. In Jesus’ name, amen!