Clean Up Your Life? YES! Mine? Not So Much.

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I was part of a meeting once when the church where I was youth minister was seeking counsel from a much larger church. Bottom line: they advised us to return home and cut off all association/fellowship with 2 other churches in town because they held a different position on marriage, divorce & remarriage. I confirmed that their church associated with another church in Denver that held very similar views to the 2 churches we were supposed to disfellowship. Then I felt compelled to say, “So you want us to cut off our relationship with 2 churches in Pueblo, but you haven’t done so here in Denver. How dare you tell us to clean up our backyard, when you haven’t been willing to clean up your own. Shame on you.” And I walked out of the meeting.

There is a similar example in the Scriptures in 2 Chron. 30-31. Here is the situation. Hezekiah became King of the southern Kingdom of Judah, consecrated the Temple after 16 years of evil and filth from his father, re-established scriptural worship, made plans for the Passover feast and sent out invitations not only to everyone in his Kingdom, but also to everyone in the northern Kingdom of Israel. Most everyone was shocked when many people from up north came to worship Jehovah; Israelites from Asher, Manasseh, Zebulun, Ephraim & Issachar showed up.

 The Passover celebration was so spectacular & inspirational that: 1- they stretched it into a second week of off the scale worship and tribute to the LORD God and 2- they launched into a smash & destroy attack of all idols throughout Judah, Benjamin (in south), Ephraim and Manasseh (up north). Then is says: “After they had destroyed all of them, the Israelites returned to their own towns and to their own property.”

Did you notice that the people from Asher, Zebulun & Issachar were so excited to destroy idols all over Manasseh and Ephraim up north, but they stopped there. Want to take a wild guess which tribes bordered Manasseh to the north? That’s right, Asher, Zebulun & Issachar. They stopped when they got to their home ground. And on top of that, when they arrived home, the Scriptures say NOTHING about them destroying the idols where they lived. They were so willing to help Manasseh & Ephraim clean up their backyard, but evidently equally unwilling to clean up their own.

When anyone is eager to help others clean up their life, but not willing to clean up their own life, what do we call those kind of folks? HYPOCRITES! That’s why Jesus tells His followers to clean up their life first, then help others do the same. He doesn’t say not to help others deal with their shortcomings; Jesus just says for His disciples to deal with their own failings first, then go speak to others.

There actually wasn’t a problem with Asher, Isaachar & Zebulun stopping at Manasseh’s border. Their return home could have been long overdue and the monetary expenses with the smash/destroy project could have been so costly that they ran out of finances. However, there was no excuse when returned home and did nothing to destroy the idols there. They showed themselves to be willing to point a finder at the faults of others, but do nothing about their own. They were willing to destroy evil in Manasseh and Ephraim, but too busy to do the same when they arrived home. May we never be that busy, or that districted. God bless.

Mike Sublett is a pastor at Hi-Land Christian Church, 1615 N. Banks St., Pampa, Texas 79065. Email him at pawdad@nts-online.net.

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