April 17

2 Kings 20-22, Psalm 107

We must be careful when casting judgment on others. The court of public opinion uses a limited amount of information, yet feels they have enough to pronounce judgment. The late evangelist, Billy Graham, had a number of children who turned away from that straight and narrow path for a season. Franklin Graham, who now heads Samaritan's Purse, wrote a book about his past called, "Rebel with a Cause". Most have heard the term, "PK" or Pastor's Kid. It is often used when a pastor's kid goes astray. Often people will whisper how the pastor was negligent in his duties as a father or spent so much time with the flock and not enough time with his children. They say this as though they actually lived in their house. Though sometimes children do turn out poorly due to neglect, other times children take wrong paths for other reasons: genetics, mental illness, influence of peers, influence of society, etc. In all of our judgments we should be instruments of grace and mercy. We read the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1-2, "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you."

We see an amazing transition in the line of the kings of Judah. Hezekiah represented the best of the line, yet his son, Manasseh represents the worst of the line. We read of Manasseh in 2 Kings 21:1-3, "Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem...And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them." We go on to read that he practiced witchcraft, sacrificed some of his sons, consulted spiritists, even erected idols in the temple itself. We read of God's analysis of Manasseh in 21:9-11, "But they paid no attention, and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the Lord spoke by his servants the prophets, saying, "Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols),". Does anyone really believe that a king as good as Hezekiah taught Manasseh to be this evil?

Though pop psychology often elevates the concept of the "blank slate theory" in that our minds are born empty and data is simply added in. In other words, we are complete products of our environment. Others feel we are victims to our genetics which we can not alter. In reality why any of us turn out how we do is so much more complex than any simplified theory, and only God knows why we are like we are. So when kids of "good people" go bad, we should be short on judgment and large on grace. God never asked us to sit in the position of judge. Rather than reflecting on the sins of others or the children of others, maybe we should reflect on our own sins instead, which should bring each and every one of us to our knees. When a kid or adult goes astray, may we stop pointing our vindictive fingers in their direction and instead open our arms in grace and mercy. May the church be known for its level of grace rather than harshness if we fall out of line. May we never forget that none of us come before the judgment seat of Christ in our own goodness, but as Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster