I am competitive in almost everything I do. I admit to getting more than a little frustrated when my kids beat me at Candy Land. (Come on! There’s no skill needed in that game AT ALL!) And the more I get to know people, the more I find that everyone has a competitive nature with something, if not most things in life.
Our desire to be the best at everything we do reaches almost every aspect of our lives. One place where it seems absent is in our relationship with God. Why do we fight so hard to be the best at Scrabble, but let our faith slide into mediocrity?
A good friend of mine once said, “If it’s Christian, it ought to be better.” As a believer, we should strive to do our absolute best in our walk with God. If we are attaching the name “Christ” to ourselves, we cannot let apathy reign.
In 2 Kings 23 and 2 Chronicles 34, we read about the greatest political king the Jewish people ever had. 2 Kings 23:25 says, “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his mind and with all his heart and with all his strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him.” Was this King David? King Solomon? No! It was King Josiah, who ruled the remnant of Judah.
Reading about Josiah’s life in 2 Chronicles 34 gives us three steps that led to his spiritual success.
1. Abolish Idols. Josiah became king at the ripe age of eight. He didn’t have a great example of faithfulness as both his father King Amon and his grandfather King Manasseh were heavily involved in idol worship. When he was still a teenager, Josiah made a decision to follow the one true God. His first act of obedience was crushing all idols.
Josiah didn’t just remove idols, he pulverized them. 2 Chronicles 34:4 and 5 say he “crushed them to dust” and “burned the bones of the priests on their alters.” Josiah could have easily outlawed idolatry. He could have simply distanced himself from the practice and turned a blind eye. But he didn’t. He crushed them, eliminating the temptation.
Many of the idols in our lives are resisted for a time, but never crushed. We let them linger until finally, like the people of Israel, we give in to the temptation. What idols are present in your life that have remained? What difficult steps must you take to remove them from your life?
2. Invest In Worship. After cleansing the land of idols, Josiah turned his attention to the temple of God. The temple workers had collected money and Josiah used much of the tax income from the people to invest in repairing the damage done by previous, ungodly kings.
Josiah took this wealth and “put it into the hands of those doing the work… they gave it to the workmen… they gave it to the carpenters and builders… also used it to buy quarried stone and timbers…” (2 Chronicles 34:10-11). Josiah was involved and got the people involved. Serving the temple of God united the people and gave them opportunity for corporate worship.
Even if we could rid our lives of temptation and sin, apart from an investment the local church, we cannot be spiritually successful. It takes giving of our finances (like Josiah) and our gifts (like the skilled workers.) Each person has unique gifts – investing those gifts in worship is essential for spiritual growth.
3. Adapt to the Word of God. It is important to note that Josiah and those working on the temple were good people. 2 Chronicles 34:11 says, “The men were doing their work with integrity.” It is reported to Josiah that “Your servants are doing all that was placed in their hands” in verse 16. These were good people doing a good work. What could be wrong?
While they were repairing the temple, the people found the book of the Law, written by Moses and read it to the king. We would expect that good Josiah doing everything right he knew how to do would be pleased with the Word of God being read. But according to 2 Chronicles 34:19, “when the king heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes,” meaning he went into immediate, gut-wrenching mourning. While he was doing good, there was something about Josiah’s work that fell short of what God was demanding.
Josiah was a good person doing his best to be faithful. Wasn’t that enough? What more can God want? When confronted with God’s corrective word, Josiah adapted his life accordingly. Too often, we want to be the standard for goodness and adapt the Word of God to us. After all, we are good people.
Josiah wasn’t content with doing a good work or being a good person. He wanted the best when it came to his relationship with God. Even his good deeds were not enough. When confronted with the Word, he immediately repented of all sin that it convicted him of.
Are you striving to be all that you can be spiritually? Have you abolished all idols of temptation in your life or are you still allowing some temptations to linger? Have you invested in worship with a local church, serving faithfully to build the kingdom of God? And do you listen intently to the Word of God, adapting your life to its truth or do you feel you are already “good enough”?
God’s desire is for us to constantly mature in our relationship with Him. Stop settling for mediocre spirituality and make a decision to be the best Christian you can be by conforming to the truth of God’s Word.