Week 42 The Importance of Spiritual Growth and Maturity

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

 Week 42

Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 21-24

Key Scripture Verse: 2 Chronicles 24:17 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“After the death of Jehoiada, the officials of Judah came and paid homage to the king, and he listened to them. They abandoned the temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols.”

 Joash became the king of Judah at the age of seven, so his family and advisors had to make decisions for him. It was a time when his uncle Jehoiada was the priest and had restored temple worship and restored the covenant of the people with God, placing oversight of the temple back in the hands of the Levitical priests. While Jehoiada was still living, Joash restored the temple under his direction and the people enjoyed a faithful lifestyle with God.

But, when Jehoiada died, Joash who had never really made his own decisions, was influenced by the officials of Judah who chose to abandon the temple of God to worship Asherah poles and idols.

So, why would they abandon God for worship of idols if they had been content in their faith? When people are content and rich with wealth and they believe themselves to be self-sufficient, they tend to develop pride. And they tend to forget God, believing they don’t need God, or just become complacent. And then they stop their worship practice and open themselves up to other influences of the culture around them.

And Joash was used to others making decisions for him—perhaps those who made decisions for him for so many years didn’t teach him how to make good decisions along the way. And, so, when opportunity to make his own decisions came about and he was physically mature and of the age to be making decisions for Judah, he allowed himself to be influenced by going along with the wrong crowd.

God’s response was to send the prophet Zechariah to warn them and to redirect them, as he pursued his people yet again to restore them to himself.

Joash’s story is sad to me, because if Joash had had his own relationship with God and had developed some wisdom of his own, he might have matured in his faith along the way and might have leaned on God instead of being influenced by those who steered him away from God.

It’s like a teenager who is given everything but never expected to have responsibility, so he doesn’t mature and learn to make wise decisions on his own. When I was a teenager, I went to a private school where a lot of the kids came from wealthy families. More than a few had already totaled their fancy Mercedes cars before graduation, because they did not have the ability to make wise decisions or to act responsibly. Some of them were just given new cars to do it all over again. Some of their parents wised up and realized their children needed to develop some responsibility and maturity.

Besides teaching us how to help others mature, this lesson also teaches us that when we make mistakes, God pursues us to help us learn from them. He sometimes has to point out our mistakes, so that we will come back to him and learn to lean on him for our needs. He really does love us and wants us to be in relationship with him.

May we lean on God when we need him and may we remember to thank him and worship him when life is good, acknowledging all that he does for us. May we grow in wisdom in our love for him.

 

 

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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