We all need people to influence us. God made us that way. From the languages we speak to the character we develop—it all begins with those who surround us in our formative years.
It starts with our environment, but it shouldn’t end there. It cannot.
When it does, it’s tragic. That was the case with King Joash.
But it doesn’t have to be that way with us.
Joash Influenced for Good
Joash began life as the only son of King Ahaziah to survive the murderous coup of Athaliah, Joash’s grandmother.
- Rescued as a baby by the grace of God, little Joash grew up safe in the seclusion of the temple under the watchful eye of the godly priest Jehoiada.
- The boy learned the ways of God for six years while godlessness ruled the land of Judah.
When Joash turned seven, Jehoiada had Athaliah executed, and the boy king began his reign. And what a great start he had!
Joash became a man and began to listen to God. He brought the reforms Judah needed in order to secure God’s favor.
All was well.
Joash Influenced for Evil
After the priest Jehoiada died, the nation buried him in a place of extreme honor—in the tombs of the kings in the City of David.
But in spite of the national honor for the priest, somehow evil had lain dormant in Judah. Jehoiada’s death resurrected it.
The officials of Judah approached King Joash and bowed in honor. Then, they influenced for evil the one whom Jehoiada had influenced for good all those years. Joash refused to listen to God . . . and instead served idols.
- The Lord sent prophets to Joash and urged the king to return. He would not listen to God.
- Joash refused and even murdered the son of Jehoiada.
Joash always needed someone to tell him what to do.
- In his youth, by God’s grace, that person was godly and Joash learned to listen to God.
- But once the priest died, the pendulum in the king’s heart swung the other direction.
Joash never learned to develop his own convictions.
God saved him and taught him in his youth. How gracious! But Joash turned away. How tragic.
Why You Should Listen to God Rather than to People
However valuable the influence of godly mentors may be in our lives—whether they be parents, pastors, or friends—we need to develop personal walks with God.
The people surrounding us as we grew up shaped us, to be sure, for good or for evil. But we each have to decide personally that the Lord is our God and accept His gracious involvement in our lives.
As the apostle Paul wrote:
Just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
We must listen to God before we listen to people.
When we stand before Him one day, we will stand alone.
Tell me what you think: What has helped you decide to become your own person before God? To leave a comment, just click here.
Adapted from Wayne Stiles, “Joash: Depending on People Rather Than Listening to God,” from Glimpses of Grace: 30 Reflections on Old Testament Lives (Plano, Texas: IFL Publishing House, 2013), pages 75-77.