As followers of Jesus, we are not to look like the rest of the world. There are consequences when we try to mold our lives to reflect the world around us versus what God has said in His Word.
A great example of this is after the book of Judges, the Israelites approach Samuel the prophet (Hannah’s son, 1 Samuel 1:20) and tell him that they want a king.
“So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.'”
1 Samuel 8:4-5 NIV
On the surface, it appears that the people are asking for a king to be appointed because the sons of Samuel are crooked and evil. The reality is that God was their King, and they were to follow all His ways in the Word of God. They should not have needed a human king. However, as we see at the very end of the book of Judges, everyone did what they wanted, and there was chaos.
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
Judges 21:25 NIV
Samuel’s reaction is to pray to the Lord. If only we would all learn to pause and lay out decisions and concerns before the Lord.
“But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.'”
1 Samuel 8:6-9 NIV
God plainly says that the people have rejected Him, not Samuel. It is easy to look at the Israelites and believe we are not like them, yet, unfortunately, as we look at the world around us, we have also rejected God. We have each played a part in our societies and cultures moving away from God: the places where we have not spoken Truth into situations, the ways we have voted, how we have spent our money, and the list goes on and on. With each decision we make, there are consequences. God communicates to Samuel the ramifications of the peoples’ desire to have a king.
“Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.'”
1 Samuel 8:10-18 NIV
When we make decisions that result in us straying from the path He has for us, there are consequences. Throughout the Bible, God informs us of the problems that occur when we do not follow His commands. He also describes the many blessings of obedience (see Deuteronomy 11:8-32). Why wouldn’t we want His blessings in our lives or in the lives of others?
A place for reflection is where are we proceeding with decisions that God has already told us in His word will have a bad outcome? Spend time asking God Psalm 139:24, “Look to see if there is any idolatrous way in me, then lead me on the eternal path!” (CEB)
Let us not be like the people during Samuel’s time.
“But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.'”
1 Samuel 8:19-20 NIV
It may seem better to mirror what others have or do – this can be wanting others’ possessions, how we interact with our families, or how we manage our finances. However, we are to look like Jesus. He was not concerned at all about mirroring the world; in fact, it was the opposite (see John 15:19). Also, James 4:4 says, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy” (CEB).
If we choose to ignore God’s warnings about the outcomes of our decisions and proceed against His will, then God may very well “hand us over” to what we desire.
“When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, ‘Listen to them and give them a king.'”
from 1 Samuel 8:21-22 NIV
All of the warnings God provided the people of Israel in 1 Samuel 8:10-18 above were fulfilled. Their lives were worse after Saul was installed as king than if they had just followed God and accepted Him as their King.
It is the same with us. Our lives will be filled with His love and peace if we just obey the Word of God (see Psalm 63).
Father in Heaven,
Help us to listen to You and seek Your guidance in decisions. Help us to read Your Word and give us hearts that crave to obey and are quick to confess sin.
In the precious name of Jesus.