Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the sons of Israel, “You shall not associate with them, nor shall they associate with you, for they will surely turn your heart away after their gods.” Solomon held fast to these in love. (1 Kings 11:1-2)
How often do we love what we’re not supposed to love? I’m not just talking people. I’m talking about committing ourselves to things God doesn’t intend for us to commit to, requiring us to yield space of our lives that is intended for something else. (And by the way, God isn’t condemning a love for people different than ourselves in this passage. He is talking about a committed, marriage love. It’s obvious by other texts that God expects us to love people who are different than ourselves. He distinguishes between loving in action and loving in a shared covenant commitment.)
We could dig into loving what is evil, but that’s a bit obvious. Let’s dig even further. What about the things that aren’t inconsistent with God’s will in general but might be in the specific timing or because of a personal conviction? We can do some good things that aren’t godly things. We often get disoriented in our pursuit of God’s will and try to figure it out or go through the motions, perhaps even mimicking someone else’s faith journey.
You see the benefits of delivering meals to people, so you sign up despite having to take food to work and do some last minute prep there in order to have it ready to deliver.
You experience the benefits of being part of a small group so you sign up for all three weekly studies that are going on at the church.
You really want to attend a worship service every Sunday, but the children’s program is desperate for volunteers, so you agree to pulling a double shift for the next quarter.
You really can’t afford to donate money toward the missions trip your friend is taking, but if it means having to charge a tank of gas to your credit card “just this once,” it will be worth it.
I’m not saying any of these things are bad in every single circumstances, but when we rationalize something based on faulty reasons instead of God’s will, we enter dangerous territory. Just because a volunteer is needed doesn’t mean it has to be you. Just because a donation is needed doesn’t mean it has to be yours. Just because a service project needs to get done doesn’t mean you have to be involved.
Let me insert another caution here: Today’s reading is in no way a “get out of God’s will” free card. Saying no to God’s will isn’t okay. We need to say no when God says no and say yes when God says yes. And both require seeking, listening, and responding to God.
Sometimes people say no when they need to say yes. It drives those around them crazy. “I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to do it.” “God told me to ask you, so He intends for you to say yes.” “Don’t tell me you’re too busy; we all set priorities.” The bottom line is, whether they’re in or out of obedience to God, they’re responsible. As are you. Are you making excuses for not doing what God is telling you to do?
Are you making excuses for doing what God isn’t telling you not to do? It’s so hard, you say, because they’re good things. Who else will do them if you don’t? The children need you. The meals need to be delivered. The room needs to be decorated. The shopping needs to be done.
Who says? And even if God is saying those things need to be done, are you confident in Him that you’re the one to do them? Are you supposed to step aside and let Him challenge and equip someone else? Are you supposed to invite someone to walk alongside you and learn what’s involved in order to train them for the future?
When you say yes to God’s no, you’re in disobedience. But it gets worse than that. If you say yes to God’s no, you’re also affecting someone else’s obedience, because if you’re filling a space you’re not supposed to fill, you’re not giving the other person (the one who is supposed to fill it) room to step up. Of course, she might not actually step up as you step aside, and you’ll likely be tempted to either blame her or step back into the role because you just can’t stand to not get something done. Stay strong. Obedience is a personal response with community responsibility and impact. We do what we’re supposed to do—no more, no less—and it ends up being just right for the body of Christ. Disobedience from individuals impacts the body.
Love the right, not the wrong. Love the God-directed, not the God-approved yet not personally convicted. It’s the only way to live in the center of God’s will and honor Him and His body in the process.
Dear God, I want to honor You in everything I do, and I know I don’t sometimes. I need to grow in many areas, leaving some things behind that don’t reflect Your will well. I need to trust You more every step of the way, asking You about the big things and the little things in my life, not getting paralyzing but building a relationship built on dependence and trust. Show me Your yes and Your no and help me to respond the same with boldness even when I am uncertain or do not understand fully.