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2 CHRONICLES 24:1-25:28 | ROMANS 12:1-21 | PSALM 22:19-31 | PROVERBS 20:8-10
Joash, the boy-king, miraculously saved by his aunt and installed on the throne of Judah at the age of seven was a good king, and he reigned in Jerusalem for forty years. One of his greater achievements was the restoration of the Temple that his father and grandfather’s generation had recklessly neglected and even looted. Joash installs a volunteer drive in order to raise funds for this great task, and during his reign, he accomplishes an impressive restoration project.
And so, you would think that Joash would continue to rule wisely, and certainly continue to fear the Lord, but it is a sad truth that one’s track record isn’t always a sure indicator for foretelling the future. This is the case with Joash, who in his later years, turns from the ways of the Lord and openly allows for idol worship in the land.
This is what the text tells us: 18 They abandoned the temple of the LORD, the God of their ancestors, and worshiped Asherah poles and idols. Because of their guilt, God’s anger came on Judah and Jerusalem. 19 Although the LORD sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and though they testified against them, they would not listen.
And so, what happens next is a final warning that comes to Joash by way of Zechariah, the son of the priest Jehoiada who was the one who had Joash installed as king in the first place. But Joash has long forgotten Jehoiada’s kindness, and instead has Zechariah stoned to death. Some years later, Joash dies a disgraceful death in battle, and is succeeded by his son, Amaziah, who is unfortunately just like his father. Nothing seems to have changed in head or heart, and so goes the line of David.
Turning now to our reading in the book of Romans, we find Paul starting out this chapter with a sublime piece of advice: that of presenting one’s bodies a “living sacrifice.” How interesting a concept is that, really. A traditional sacrifice in the Jewish tradition was to take an animal without blemish and offer it up to the Lord on an altar of fire—to be consumed in full, as is. But Paul is exhorting the reader to offer up one’s own body—a living body, at that—as a “living sacrifice” to God.
What could please God more than that—to see his creation offer themselves up by way of their own breathing and moving beings. It is nothing short of worship.
Paul says, 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Paul goes on to offer more exhortation to every believer in that he urges each to offer humble service as and how each person is able.
Paul says, 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
The next few verses are so packed with words of advice that I would be remiss to leave even a single verse or word out. It would behoove us to read each sentence multiple times in order to allow the meaning of each exhortation to become clear in our minds, and hopefully, to even become indelibly embedded in our hearts.
It shows us clearly what Paul believed, what he preached, and evidently what he practiced. May it be that each Christ-follower would take Paul’s words to heart, and would put into action each and every piece of advice as and when the opportunity presents itself in our lives.
Paul says: 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Turning next to our psalm for the day, we find David offering praises to the Lord and envisioning a day when all the nations of the world will do the same.
He says, 27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, 28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
Finally, a verse from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, the wise king of Israel, asks what can only be thought of as a rhetorical question—because the answer, in case of any doubt at all, is “no one”.
9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.