The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
In 1 Kings 18, the Israelites tried to blend the worship of God with the worship of the false god Baal. They wanted to experience the best of both religions rather than embrace one or the other completely.
The Israelites were like many Christians today who think of the world’s religions and philosophies as a spiritual buffet from which they can pick and choose. Scratch beneath the surface of many Christians’ faith, and you will find it to be a strange mixture of biblical Christianity, mysticism, and positive thinking. That is how people manufacture their own faith. But it is very hard to look at biblical Christianity and not be all in.
Elijah declared that the Israelites could no longer straddle the fence. It was time to decide: “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). He was saying, “If the Lord is God, then obey all His commands and forsake Baal completely. But if you think Baal is God, then commit yourself to him and forget trying to follow the Lord.”
Many Christians are trying to straddle the fence between following God and following their idol of choice–not necessarily some figurine made of wood or metal, but a person or thing they love more than they love God. Popular idols today include money, sex, career, and relationships. None of these things is wrong in and of itself–until it becomes the focus of your life.
Most Christians are not comfortable forsaking God and devoting all their attention toward their idol, so they try to worship both of their “gods.” The result? They never fully experience the benefit of either “god” because of a half-hearted commitment. If Elijah were speaking to us today, he would say, “If money, sex, or your career is what you love, then give yourself completely to it and forget all this Jesus stuff. But if you believe God is who He says He is, then devote yourself completely to following Him.”
God demands a total commitment to Him, not just a partial commitment. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon described some of the benefits of a wholehearted commitment to God. “The fear of the Lord,” he said, “is the instruction for wisdom” (15:33), “keeps [one] away from evil” (16:6), and “leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil” (19:23). And what is the result of following God? “The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, honor and life” (22:4). Do you want to know how to have a successful life? According to the wisest man who ever lived, the answer is simple: choose to follow God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Deciding To Burn The Ships” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.