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GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey

Image by Alex Shute

GSFA Devotional

6 September 2023

 

What happens when we fail to seek God’s wisdom? 

Reading: 1 Kings 12:1-11

The most important quality of successful leaders is wisdom. Leaders gain wisdom when they seek it with all their hearts. There is worldly wisdom and there is Godly wisdom. Godly wisdom helps leaders to fear God and follow Him wholeheartedly. God always grants His wisdom for those who ask for it. King Solomon is the best example of this.

 

When church leaders are called to serve in different church offices, they should appeal for God’s wisdom in every matter they deal with. We can receive God’s wisdom through His written word and the guidance of His Holy Spirit. The spirit can speak to us directly, through people or through different situations. That is why we should ask for a spirit of discernment in order to differentiate between God’s voice and other voices that may sound good.

 

I would like to reflect on a biblical story of a leader who failed to seek God’s wisdom. As a result, his kingdom was divided and became involved in wars. It is the story of King Rehoboam the son of King Solomon.

 

“Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away. Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?”    he asked. They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”

 

 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’” 1Kgs.12 : 1-11

 

When we read 1Kgs chapters 11 and 12 we learn the following:

  • King Solomon did not finish well. He loved many foreign wives and “did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.” He didn’t care about the spiritual life of his sons, especially Rehoboam who became the king after him.

  • Rehoboam when he became the king, his people appealed to him to lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke his father, King Solomon, put on them.

  • Rehoboam asked the experienced elders who served his father. They advised him to be “ a servant for his people” and to be more merciful than his father.

  • Rehoboam also asked his young unexperienced friends. They advised him to be more harsh with his people even more than his father.

  • Rehoboam took the advice of his young friends and communicated this with the people.

  • As a result, the people of the northern part of the kingdom of Israel rejected Rehoboam kingship and made Jeroboam a king over the ten tribes of the North. This division of the kingdom lead to further wars and weakness.
     

My dear brothers and sisters, it was obvious that the advice of the elders was God’s wisdom because kings are anointed to serve and to shepherd the people, not to enslave them. Failure to listen to God’s wisdom leads to internal divisions and external wars. Divisions are not necessarily geographical ones, as it was in the case of King Rehoboam, but it may take the form of divided hearts or groups within the Church. These divisions hinder the advancement of the gospel and the kingdom of God.

 

My beloved, we need to ask ourselves these questions: are we seeking God’s wisdom? Do we pray for this? Are we reluctant to ask experienced people of God for advice? Are we wise on our own eyes? Are we seeking God’s glory or ours? Are we servant and humble leaders or proud and autocratic leaders?

 

I found the best answers to these questions, in book of proverbs where the Spirit says to us:

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Prov.3:5-8

 

Contributed by:

The Most Rev Dr. Mouneer H. Anis

Archbishop Emeritus
Anglican Province of Alexandria

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