Lessons in Leadership Lost

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

2 Chronicles 21:1-20 | June 26 -

June 26
Lessons in Leadership Lost | 2 Chronicles 21:1-20
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray one more time as we come to God’s Word.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2

Lord, we want to be like that man. We want to meditate on your law, day and night, and never have your word far from us. As we draw near to you through your word, we pray that you would draw near to us and speak. Give us ears to hear, hearts to understand, and wills to obey. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Our passage this morning is not from Exodus, but from 2 Chronicles 21. Why? Well, as I said last week, I’ll be taking some study time in July. This is the last time that I’ll be preaching for several weeks. Exodus 19 really starts the second half of the book. The Israelites are encamped at Mount Sinai. The Lord speaks to Moses and the people. There are flashes of lighting and thunder, and the Ten Commandments are given (Exodus 20). Rather than venture into all of that, I thought we’d do something different.

We talked about leadership in Exodus 17—a story, among other things, about Moses’ leadership. Aaron and Hur held up his arms as he lifted up his prayers and attention to God, and God gave them victory over the Amalekites. Then, even more explicitly, we saw Moses interact with his father-in-law Jethro in Exodus 18. Jethro gave him that good advice: “Look, you are killing yourself, because you’re Crazy Busy [Trademark!] You’re doing way too much. You need to find some men who can help you.”

We saw what good leadership looks like. Sometimes, though, it’s even more powerful to learn about leadership, character, or godliness from bad examples, to see what we ought not to do. I have learned in writing a blog that if you have a post that says, “Seven Characteristics of a Healthy Marriage,” it will not get as many hits as, “Seven Ways to Destroy your Marriage.” We are drawn to asking, “How did this train wreck happen?” In this passage, we are going to see how not to live your life or be a leader.

I don’t have to tell you that we’re in a very political season. There is nothing in this passage that will tell you who to vote for, so I’m not going to tell you either. But I am going to tell you, from God’s Word, the extreme importance of character. Being an admirable human being does not make you a good CEO, coach, or president by default. Character is not a sufficient condition for being a great leader—but it is a necessary condition. We are whole people, with private and public lives that bleed into each other and cannot be separated. When it comes to doing good in the world, especially for the cause of Christ, no amount of charisma can overcome a dearth of character.

We see it here in 2 Chronicles 21:

Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Jehoram his son reigned in his place. He had brothers, the sons of Jehoshaphat: Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariah, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Israel. Their father gave them great gifts of silver, gold, and valuable possessions, together with fortified cities in Judah, but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram, because he was the firstborn. When Jehoram had ascended the throne of his father and was established, he killed all his brothers with the sword, and also some of the princes of Israel. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. Yet the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.
In his days Edom revolted from the rule of Judah and set up a king of their own. Then Jehoram passed over with his commanders and all his chariots, and he rose by night and struck the Edomites who had surrounded him and his chariot commanders. So Edom revolted from the rule of Judah to this day. At that time Libnah also revolted from his rule, because he had forsaken the LORD, the God of his fathers.
Moreover, he made high places in the hill country of Judah and led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom and made Judah go astray. And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father, ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel and have enticed Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom, as the house of Ahab led Israel into whoredom, and also you have killed your brothers, of your father’s house, who were better than you, behold, the LORD will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions, and you yourself will have a severe sickness with a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the disease, day by day.’”
And the LORD stirred up against Jehoram the anger of the Philistines and of the Arabians who are near the Ethiopians. And they came up against Judah and invaded it and carried away all the possessions they found that belonged to the king’s house, and also his sons and his wives, so that no son was left to him except Jehoahaz, his youngest son.
And after all this the LORD struck him in his bowels with an incurable disease. In the course of time, at the end of two years, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great agony. His people made no fire in his honor, like the fires made for his fathers. He was thirty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. 2 Chronicles 21

Do you want to end your life like that? I think we can all agree that that is not the way we want to go out. Try to picture yourself at the end of your life. Let’s think good thoughts: it’s a long life, full of days. People are gathering to remember you at a funeral service. They’re posting things on Facebook, or whatever Big Brother has come up with by then. What are they saying about you? We can all agree that we hope it’s significantly better than this. What kind of leader leaves this kind of legacy?

What do you want your epitaph to be? I don’t think it’s morbid at all to think about it. I actually think it’s a fine practice to go walk through a cemetery once in a while. Years ago, when we lived within walking distance from one of them, one of my favorite things to do was to go there to walk, pray, and think.

It’s amazing how walking among tombstones puts your problems and strivings into perspective. You see these people who have come and gone, almost all of whose lives have been forgotten—just like you and I will be. Think about your great-great-grandparents—just a few generations removed from you. Most of us would struggle to say very much. Parents—yes. Grandparents—yes. Maybe we even have a straining memory of great-grandparents. But most of us never know great-great-grandparents unless we’re into genealogy. If you haven’t studied, you couldn’t say much. Maybe it’s just a name or something—and that’s among those of your own family. You and I will be forgotten, and our lives will be marked with a dash. Maybe we’ll have a word or two, or a phrase, there on the tombstone: “Husband.” “Father.” “Mother.” “Daughter.” “Follower of Christ.” “Soldier.” What would you have it say?

It’s said that Al Capone’s last words were, “My Jesus! Mercy!”—and he needed it. Groucho Marx wanted to leave behind this epitaph on his tombstone: “Excuse me, I can’t stand up.” Mel Blanc, the voice of many different Looney Tunes characters, including Porky Pig, says on his tombstone, “That’s all folks!” Henry Edsel Smith’s (he’s sort of unfortunate) says, “Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was.” Jeremiah Johnson’s simply says, “I told you I was sick.”

Then you have Jehoram. “He departed to no one’s regret.” Did you even know those words were in your Bible? That is rough. That is a mic drop. That is a burn! He departed to no one’s regret! At the memorial service: “Anyone want to stand up and say a few words about King Jehoram?” And there was nothing. Maybe there was some relative who said he was a nice boy, or underneath it all he had a very good heart. But what we have recorded in Scripture is that across the kingdom, when they opened their papers or got the news alert on their phone that morning—“King Jehoram is dead!”—they all went, “Whew, good.” He departed to no one’s regret.

How do you leave that kind of legacy? Because that is not the legacy you want to leave or the sort of leader you want to be—so that when you leave this earth, people don’t say, “Fine.”

Remember, Israel and Judah have been divided at this time. Israel is in the north; Judah is in the south. Israel, on the whole, is a bit more wicked than Judah. They will be taken over by the Assyrians in 722 BC, while Judah will last into 587-586 BC, when the Babylonians come.

Jehoshaphat’s Legacy

Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, was a good king who left a good legacy both materially and spiritually. Jehoram, along with his brothers, was given great gifts of silver and gold, valuable possession, and fortified cities in Judah (verse 3). You can’t say that this guy started off on the wrong foot—you know, “He wasn’t given any opportunities in life. The starting line was here, and he was ten paces behind it.” No, this man was given every opportunity.

Sometimes, we start out with all sorts of things and squander them. So many of us are instinctively trained to think that we’re nothing more than the product of our past circumstances and experiences. If you turned out good, then you must have had some really lucky breaks in life. If you turned out bad, then there is nothing to blame except for whatever bad things happened to you. Certainly, we are shaped by our past, but the Bible would tell us that we are not determined by our past. Here we have a man who was given every sort of opportunity—he was elite, privileged, and rich (the 1%)—and he squandered it all.

Jehoram Messes Up

Jehoram messed up quickly and colossally. How? Well, first, his life was marked with personal jealousy. If you want to leave a legacy that is something akin to Jehoram’s, that’s a start: cultivate personal jealousy for others. Are there people who have more than you? Be jealous. People who seem to have more opportunities? Be envious. Your brother has a bigger piece of pie? Outrage. You don’t like something on the internet? Tell everyone about it all the time. Be Personally jealous.

We would use, in our modern parlance, words like “insecure”. He “marginalized” others. Well, “marginalize” is putting it sort of euphemistically. He killed them. We read later that his brothers were more noble than him—how do you like that?—so he bumped them off, along with any other princes or little guys that might be a challenge to usurp his authority on the throne.

Second, he was spiritually compromised. Compromise isn’t always a dirty word. There are all sorts of things in life where we have to be willing to budge a little, give, and meet others halfway—but not spiritually.

How did he compromise? He walked in the ways of the house of Ahab. Ahab had been the king of Israel. He was a terrible king. He was married to Jezebel. Throughout Israel’s history, when you thought of what it meant to be really, really rotten, you held up Ahab and Jezebel. Even the New Testament church, when they thought of someone who would be a false prophet, it was “Jezebel,” someone who would lead people astray.

Jehoram married one of the daughters of Ahab. Mark it well, young and single people: a bad marriage is one of the surest, fastest ways to ruin your spiritual life. Marry in the Lord. Marry someone who shares your passion and commitment to follow Jesus Christ—someone who will help you follow God, not pull you away from him. There is no sacrifice that is worth that compromise.

Tim Keller’s wife wrote an article to single people one time, and said (I’m paraphrasing), “If you think you’re lonely now, try marrying someone who doesn’t love the Lord and see how lonely you’ll be for the rest of your life.” So Jehoram compromised. No doubt there was a sense that it would be a keen political alliance, but it led him to compromise.

We see the danger of cozying up to idolatry and spiritual adultery all over the place in Israel’s history. Purity among God’s people is so essential, because we are meant to reflect God. As we’ll see when we get to Exodus 19, God’s people were to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

That identity is not transferred to the United States of America, but to the church. We are to be a holy people, a royal priesthood. Yes, I get concerned about the way of the world, about politics, and about what is going to happen in November, and I wonder if there are any good candidates out there. I care about all of those things.

But what I care about much more is the spiritual integrity of the church. Only the church will last forever. Jesus only promised to build the church. Whatever may come in our country or the world around us may be good or bad for the church, but if the church is strong and consistent, and has integrity, then persecution, waywardness, or wandering in the world may just spell the best days ahead for the church. Sometimes the light shines that much brighter when there is more and more darkness.

Jehoram was a compromiser, personally jealous, and filled with cultural blindness. You see that he built the high places (verse 11). If you know anything about the kings of Israel and Judah—even of many of the good kings, who walked in the ways of David their father, the records say, “Nevertheless, they did not tear down the high places.” What were the high places? They were literally places that were up in the hills or mountains that would be shrines to other gods and goddesses.

The phrase “the high places” became a euphemism for describing something that was so culturally entrenched that even good people could not see to do away with it. Certainly slavery and racism was that for a long time in our country’s history. It is with great shame and regret that you read some great reformed and Presbyterian ministers and theologians who could not see through their own cultural blindness in that area.

Have you considered what cultural blindnesses we might have? Everyone does them. They’re everywhere. How can you not have those high places? This is why it is so instructive to read dead people. This is what C.S. Lewis means when he uses the phrase “chronological snobbery” in his famous essay Surprised by Joy. He says, “When you read dead people or old things, you can pretty easily spot their mistakes.” “Oh, I can’t believe it. The way that he thought about other cultures, ethnicities, and races is so terrible—and maybe the way he spoke about women.” We can see that. But when we read them, and see their pursuit of sexual purity and holiness, the way that they spent their money, or the way that they had family worship in their home, we think, “Why are we so unlike that?” They help show our own high places that have become so culturally entrenched in our day that we can’t tear them down.

This was Jehoram. Personal jealousy, spiritual compromise, cultural blindness. He messed things up quickly. He was given silver, gold, and cities. His kingdom was firmly established, and he threw it away because of cowardice and compromise.

This is very sobering to me, as it should be to you. A good leader can do a lot of good, but it takes a very long time. As I’ve said before (it probably didn’t originate with me), young people tend to overestimate the good that they can do in 5 years and underestimate the good that they can do in 50 years. If you think, “I’m going to go change the world this summer. Just give me three years—by the time I’m thirty”—no, you’re going to do a lot less than you think you will. But to faithfully plod along for 50 years and look back and see all the good that God has done for you—that’s remarkable.

It’s sobering, because it takes a long time to leave a very good legacy and a very short time to leave a terrible legacy. That’s often frightened me as a pastor—in a good way, I think: “Okay Lord, if you would keep me from really screwing up, and keep me faithfully preaching the word week after week, trying to love my family and kids, and trying to grow in holiness—maybe when it’s all said and done, you’ll give me 40-50 years in the ministry. There will be something worth celebrating, because it would only take months, weeks, days, or even moments to throw it all away.”

Thankfully, in Christ, there are second chances—a thousand of them—and there is forgiveness. It’s sobering that it takes a long time leave a good legacy and a very, very short time to throw it away. Jehoshaphat was a good king. Asa was basically a good king. Then here comes Jehoram. He’s a two-term king (of course, they didn’t vote him in for two terms, but eight years nonetheless), and he makes a colossal mess of it. We must consider that in our families, ministries, and jobs. We’re so often looking for the quick fix, but you won’t see what your life has really meant until you have the perspective of decades. You can’t see it in the perspective of days. You can’t see it with your kids over days. You see it over decades.

God Punishes Jehoram

The Lord graciously said that he would maintain a lamp for the sake of his promise to David. He had made a covenant to him that he would never fail to have a man to sit on the throne. That man is now the God-man, Jesus Christ. Because of that promise to David, Jehoram didn’t feel the full extent of his own consequences. Mark this very well. Some people are saved from all the consequences they deserve simply for the sake of others—because God is gracious and merciful. But the Lord does punish Jehoram. First with external revolt (Edom), and then when with internal revolt (Libnah). So the kingdom that was in relative peace and harmony is now in an uproar.

Elijah’s Letter

Then Jehoram gets a letter. Most of you have probably heard of the prophet Elijah. You know a lot of wild stories about the miracles performed by Elijah and Elisha, but did you know that there was a letter from Elijah?! This is a hard letter to receive—and no doubt to write. It would be easy for us in the distance of millennia to say, “He’s a terrible king. Tell him off.” Or, “Anyone could post something this afternoon about what they don’t like about the governor or the president. No big deal!” No, this is the king, who can have you killed or banished at his word. It takes some guts for Elijah to write this letter.

“Dear, king. You are a lousy king. You are a disobedient, prostituting, murderous villain. Too bad you killed your brothers—they were much better than you. Therefore, the Lord is going to punish you, your people, your wives, your kids, and pretty much everything you own. Yours truly, Elijah. P.S. You will have dysentery for the rest of your life.” That’s the letter, and he meant every word of it.

Don’t think, “Oh, the Lord is so hard on people. This guy just made a couple of mistakes.” He killed his brothers (the princes), worshiped at the high places, and had revolts. This came after years of flagrant, egregious disobedience.

And he could have repented. There was always an offer to repent. When Jonah went to Nineveh, he offered them, as far as we can tell, no good news. Forty days, and they would be wiped out. Even they understood that there was always an implicit appeal in the prophet’s message: “This threatened judgment can be changed if you repent.” They did; Jehoram didn’t.

We read this exact thing in Jeremiah 18:7-10. It lays out that, “If at any time my people would repent, I would forgive them.” You know the verse which is sometimes misapplied. People throw it up there and put an American flag behind it. It’s a fine thing for us to think about doing, but it’s not a specific promise for our country:

…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

It’s certainly a good idea for any people at any time to seek the Lord and repent of their sins, but this was a specific promise given to his covenant people at the beginning of 2 Chronicles. When was Chronicles written? Probably during the exile. It was to be read by those in exile—those who had seen these promises seemingly fall apart. God had promised them land, health, prosperity, and all of these other things. Now they’re languishing away somewhere, slaves and captive people of another empire.

2 Chronicles gives us a chronicle of all the kings—some good and some bad. That verse is supposed to be a banner over the whole book. “Look, that guy was a scoundrel. That other guy was pretty good. That was terrible. That’s why things got so bad. But if you would repent, turn, and say, ‘I’m sorry. I want to walk in your ways, not my ways,’ I’m right here.” Jehoram never did.

Jehoram Reaps what He Sows

Jehoram is reaping what he has sown. If you sow bad seeds in your life, you will eventually reap a bad harvest. I talking to a young teenager years ago as a pastor. He was doing what some teenagers do. He was part of the church (at least, his family was), and he was getting into drugs, alcohol, and parties. His parents knew it. He knew it. And he didn’t feel the least bit of remorse about it. I tried to talk to him, give him spiritual advice, and tell him about the lordship of Christ, but none of it was clicking.

Finally, I just said, “Fella, you are going to reap what you are sowing right now one day.” I don’t think that really sunk in either, but that was the last thing I could think of. “If you don’t even care about your parents, your name, your reputation, or any of that, maybe you would care about your own life. What you are sowing right now, I’m going to promise you, does not end well. That’s the point in Galatians 5-6. Some people reap destruction. God may withhold some of his deserved wrath, but we will eventually reap. You will get what that seed is.”

When I was a kid, I remember being excited when, one fall, a wild pumpkin patch started growing in our backyard. Our parents were less excited about it. The previous year, we had taken a bunch of those pumpkin seeds from scooping out that gross pumpkin-ness, and we put them there in the backyard in the grass. Sure enough, we had all these pumpkins, because it turns out that you get pumpkins from pumpkin seeds! It was mind-blowing to me, not having grown up on the farm. “Wow! Seeds produce a harvest. You sow; you reap!”

Some of us have forgotten that. We hope that we can just keep sowing whatever kind of life we want to live and reap all the good things that we saw our parents had. No, eventually you will reap a bad harvest if you sow bad seeds. That’s what we see with Jehoram.

Here’s two axioms about the role of sin in our lives, one from biblical teaching and one from biblical example. First, from biblical teaching: the worst thing God can do to you in this life is to give you over to yourself. Go read Romans 1 sometime. “He gave them over. He gave them over. He gave them over.” “Well, I’ve gotta be true to myself.” If that self is not in Christ, that’s about the worst thing you can do. Our whole world says that the point of your life is to find yourself, express yourself, and not let anybody deny what you want to be as who you are. You can be whomever you want. But there’s nothing worse than for God to say to us, “You know what? Whatever you want to do, be, think, say, feel, and experience, go for it! I give you over to yourself.”

We don’t realize how much grace God gives us by simply restraining our natural desires and inclinations. Unrestrained personal freedom is the worse kind of tyranny: sin.

We see the other axiom about sin in example after example from the Bible, including here with King Jehoram. Let me put it very theologically for you: sin makes messes—of Ahab’s life, David’s life, Jehoram’s life, and humanity! Whenever you find yourself mired in some counseling situation, friend’s situation, or family dynamic, and you are staying up at night thinking about it because it’s so complicated, with so many layers—this person’s hurt, this person’s doing this thing, they’ve got years of this, and that’s never been addressed—and you think it’s an unbelievable, unholy mess, that is a sure sign that there is sin. Sin makes messes.

If you ask somebody who had the great blessing of decent, godly, loving parents to tell you about their upbringing, it takes fifteen seconds: “Well, I had a mom, a dad, and some brothers and sisters. Mom and Dad loved me and told me about Jesus. Yeah, it was great.” If you didn’t have the blessing of that, thankfully God can redeem all the years that the locusts have eaten, to use the language of Joel. God can bring about a new start, a new change, healing, and forgiveness, but sin still makes messes.

Ask somebody else: “Tell me about growing up.” “Well, how much time do you have? I’ve gone through a lot of bad things. There’s a lot of hurt, pain, people coming and going, and all sorts of things.” Sin makes messes. That’s why all of us are a mess. All of us have messy families, to one degree or another, because even really good families still have sinners in them.

The Sad End of a Sad Life

The heart of our rebellion is that we think sin is the answer, not the problem, which is why it takes faith to believe that he who sows into the flesh will reap destruction. It’s why the Bible calls wickedness “folly”. That’s what it is. You think you’re being really smart and clever: “I can sin my way out of sin.” That’s folly. It doesn’t work that way. If you put down pumpkin seeds, you get pumpkins. If you sow to the flesh, you reap destruction. What a mess Jehoram made for himself. In eight years, he unraveled the accomplishments of Jehoshaphat and Asa combined.

He may not have even seen it. He may have gone to his dying breath, feeling as if he was a victim, that the Lord had been so unkind to him, and wondering what God had done to make his life so difficult. When we confront people in sin, we should not expect that they will thank us for it. If you confront an angry person, they’ll probably be angry. If you talk to a suspicious person, they’ll be suspicious of you. If you confront a defensive person, they’ll get defensive. Jehoram’s life is a tragic example of the deceitfulness of sin, the folly of wickedness. Every promise sin made proved empty.

Jehoram was the anti-Midas. Everything he touched turned to rust.

Rather than enlarging the scope of his power through seizing his brothers’ cities, he loses control over Libnah and Edom; rather than securing the succession of his own children by slaughtering his brothers, he sees them suffer a similar fate; rather than securing life and happiness for himself, he suffers and agonizing and premature death; rather than gaining the devotion of his subjects, he dies unmourned and without the customary honors attending a royal funeral. So it is for those who forget the kingdom is God’s. Raymond Dillard – Word Bible Commentary, Volume 15: 2 Chronicles

Every step of his life, he believed the lies that sin made to him. “I want to have security; I’ll kill my brothers.” All it meant was the end of his own family. “I want my people to love me.” No one regretted when he died. Sin lied, Jehoram had believed every one of the lies. So we come to the sad end of a very sad life, with an ending that none of us want. There was no fire in his honor, and no burial in the tomb of the kings. Just this biting epitaph that he died to no one’s regret.

It’s possible to waste your life. He had position, privilege, power, wealth, and prestige, but he squandered it all. Jehoram was the prodigal son who never came home. He is the first king of Judah about whom the chronicler has nothing good to say. It’s no surprise that he gets such a woeful final evaluation. “Here’s your report card: you passed away to no one’s regret.” This may be worst epitaph in the entire book.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave? What kind of leadership do you want to leave behind you? Dr. John Getty was a Scottish Presbyterian who moved to Canada as an infant. He became the father of Presbyterian missions in the South Seas—the New Hebrides, now called Vanuatu. He went to a little island called Aneityum, and he labored there as a missionary for 24 years. When he died, he was a relatively young man in his 50s, I believe. On a tablet placed behind a pulpit erected to his memory were inscribed these words about his service: “When he landed in 1848, there were no Christians. When he left in 1872, there were no heathen.” That’s not a bad epitaph.

Think of Moses, who we’ve been reading and studying about for nine months. Moses, with all of his miracles, his power, and his place in Pharaoh’s court, conquers the most powerful empire of his day by the word of the Lord, leading a mass of people to the very brink of the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 34:5 records: “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord…” Our epitaphs may not say that we went to some remote island in the South Seas, and when we came there were no Christians, but when we left, there were no heathen. But they could say what was said for Moses: “the servant of the Lord died”.

What will be said about you and me? We all, if we’re honest, are living for some kind of epitaph. Maybe you are holier than I am and have never thought, like I have: “I wonder what they will say at my funeral. I wonder what good things and triumphs they will be able to pass on. I have so many kids, so I’ll at least have one that wants to stand up and say something good about me.”

We’re all living for some kind of epitaph. What do you want? “I did it my way!” “I garnered academic respectability.” “My blog post went viral.” “My kids were impressive.” “My house was beautiful and always clean.” “My church was big.” “I had fun.” “I was true to myself.” “I was a season ticket holder.” What sort of legacy do you want to leave behind?

…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Even if your life has been like Jehoram’s, it’s not too late. In the end, there are really only two things that can be said of us. Either it will be said in the throne room of heaven, “He neither knew Christ nor cherished Christ,” or it will be said, “He belonged to Christ and lived for Christ.” In all of his grandeur and accomplishments, as long as the world exists, there will be people who know the name of Moses, but all of us will be long forgotten. Yet you can receive the same simple commendation that he received: “the servant of the Lord”.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, thank you that you have restrained our worst impulses. We pray for more of your restraining grace. Thank you that there is a Savior. We don’t want to squander our inheritance. Just by being here this morning, you have given us an inheritance, for we have sat in front of your Word. We have opened the Bible in a language we can understand. We can hear you speaking to us. Don’t let us miss all that you have given to us. Thank you for Christ—for forgiveness enough, life enough, and hope enough in him. Let us live as his servants. To God be the glory! In Jesus’ name, amen.