“After this Joash decided to restore the house of the Lord. And he gathered the priests and the Levites and said to them, “Go out to the cities of Judah and gather from all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that you act quickly.”
– 2 Chronicles 24:4-5 ESV-
As I read about Joash in 2 Chronicles, one phrase stood out to me: your God. Those two words spoke volumes about the heart of King Joash. He began his reign doing what was right in the sight of the Lord, but once Jehoiada the priest died, he fell away from doing right to follow other gods. How could somebody who did right for so long suddenly fall away? I think the answer is found in those two words he spoke to the Levites: your God. He had good intentions, and repairing the house of the Lord was the right thing to do. Yet his doing right before the Lord was not because of his faith but rather the faith of the one counseling him.
Having wise counselors of the faith is definitely a very good thing, and for the years that Jehoiada was alive, Joash did right before the Lord. The trouble was once the wise counselor died, Joash did not have his own faith to stand on. The good things Joash had done were not based on his desire to please the God he knew personally. His choices were aimed to please the God those who were close to him knew personally. Joash lived his life in faith, but not in his own faith. God wasn’t his God; He was the God of the Levites and the counselors. Thus, when the wise counselor died, so did Joash’s faith.
In Matthew 7 Jesus told those who listened to him that there will come a day when people will come to Him and say, “Lord, Lord! I did all this in your name,” and He will say, “Depart from me; I never knew you.” Why? Because good works and good intentions and doing the right thing doesn’t give you a personal relationship with Jesus. Having a personal relationship with Jesus will help you do the right thing and produce good works, but it’s not the works which save you; it’s God. A personal relationship with God is what saves you. Not your parents’ relationship with him. Not your spouse’s relationship with Him. Not your friends or teachers or any other people in your life whom you depend on and look to for advice. As Keith Green once said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger!”
My kids and I watched the movie God’s Not Dead the other day, and the choice that one young man had in the story was to go along with his well-meaning family and girlfriend or to continue forward in what he felt God wanted him to do. Ultimately, he chose what he felt God wanted him to do because his relationship with God propelled him forward in that way. If he hadn’t had a personal faith—if he had had only the faith of his parents or the faith of his girlfriend, then he would’ve written “God’s Dead” at their request more easily. But he had made a relationship with Jesus his own, and because it was his own, he did the right thing, and that right thing changed the lives of many people for eternity.
So I ask you. When you do the things you do and say the things you say, are you like Joash? Are you only doing the right thing because of the faith of those around you? Or are you doing what you do and saying what you say because you have a personal relationship with the God of universe? Do you have a personal relationship with Him? Do you read your Bible regularly? Do you pray regularly? Do you go to church because of your desire to worship him? Or is your faith the faith of someone else? There comes a point in everybody’s life when they need to decide whether God is going to be their God or not. Proclaiming, “Well, I was raised in a church,” or “I went to a Christian school,” or “I attended church every Sunday,” is not what will get you to heaven. It will also not keep you steadfast in an ever-changing world. Only a personal relationship with the Lord will enable you to remain steadfast no matter the changes in your life. A personal relationship with Jesus is eternal.
Therefore, choose Jesus today. Make a relationship with Him personal; make it your own. Give your heart to Him. He’ll make your heart His home.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
Matthew 7:24-25 ESV