May 29 - Message update

The Half-Hearted - 2 Chronicles 25:1-28 – Pastor Josh

Have you ever done something halfheartedly before? You probably don't have to think too far back because maybe it happened in your own homes this week. Today we’re going to take a look at someone in Scripture who was halfhearted too. He seemed like a good king at first but slowly devolved because of his half-heartedness for God.

And this actually leads us to our take home truth, halfhearted faith leads to wholehearted heartache. There are few things more dangerous than halfhearted love or faith for God. If this is so important, it begs the question then, “What does halfhearted faith in God look like?”

1. Halfhearted faith is moral. (2 Chron. 25:1-4) Halfhearted faith disguises itself as solid faith and tricks us into believing that it's genuine and real. Half-hearted faith looks good on the outside.

While Amaziah reigned for 29 years and his mom was Jehoaddan, he did do what was right in God's eyes but, and this is a big but however, but he did not do what was right with his whole heart. Amaziah was halfhearted in his devotion to God.  

He did some things that were right however. I mean, we see it right here in verse 3 where it says, “and as soon as the royal power was firmly his, he killed his servants who had struck down the king his father.” This was actually in step with Old Testament law. If you killed someone, murdering them, then that was punishable by death.

So, it's understandable that Amaziah put to death his father's killers. What actually sticks out from this passage though is that he allows his father’s killers children to live. Unlike the outside world where it would have been very common to completely extinguish a political foe’s family and completely wipe them out, Amaziah instead determines himself to follow God's law and not put to death his father's killer’s children.

I feel like this describes us in many of our own faith walks with God at times, of course myself included. We can easily be going through the motions in making the right decisions at times and what it looks like to follow and love God but even as we're doing these things, we can be doing it with halfhearted faith and a halfhearted love for God.

So church, take the long road. Practice and aim for that steady and faithful faith. There will be pitfalls but know that God will always be there to walk alongside you when you want to get back up wholeheartedly.

Halfhearted faith looks moral. But what else does halfhearted faith in God look like? This brings us to our second answer and point - 2. Halfhearted faith is reasonable. (vv.5-13)

While halfhearted faith is moral, it can also look like there's something else going on. Maybe there are hidden motives behind it. Maybe it sounds a little right but when you get to the heart behind it, it isn’t so honorable. Or maybe it’s saying you believe in one thing and do something else entirely that contradicts it.

So, what's happening here? Amaziah recruits 300,000 men from Judah to take part in this battle and then hires 100,000 men of Israel in order to invade the Kingdom of Edom.

Remember at this time Judah and Israel were two separate kingdoms, so Amaziah had to hire soldiers from Israel in order to practically make a victory happen. He was paying these soldiers an average amount of money or less, 100 talents of silver, so these guys really needed and were looking forward to the spoils of war or the plundering that would happen in order to make this campaign for them worthwhile. However instead of these hired hands and mercenaries from Israel going to war alongside Judah, an unnamed prophet advises Amaziah to not include them and send them home. The reason he says to do this is because God is not with Israel at this time. “God will take care of you and everything will be just fine without them!” This put Amaziah in a conundrum. “I paid all of these guys already and I feel like I need them in order to win. What am I going to do about the money I had just lost if I send them away?” So what the prophet tells him is that God will give you so much more than what you would have gained if they were to stay. This is key and important to remember because it's only after hearing this that Amaziah decides to go along with the prophet’s advice. These mercenaries then end up getting incredibly angry and raiding a few cities on their way home, killing 3000 people and stealing so much. However, Amaziah took courage, led Judah to battle and won, although in a rather brutal and bloodthirsty way.

While some of this part of Amaziah’s story has some good points – taking the courage to listen to the unnamed prophet’s directions and going into battle with just the army of Judah, we're finally starting to see Amaziah’s not so great side in other ways. He's beginning to show his true colors.

Tying it back to us, we can go to church, do churchy and “Christian” things but what are our actual motives? Are we truly following God with our WHOLE heart or just going through the motions? Something else to consider is asking ourselves, “What are the things that stand in contradiction to who we say we are with our faith?” “How does the way we live bring into question the genuineness of our faith?”

We learned earlier how one of our first responses is to revere God, well after understanding that, once we actually revere and understand God’s place in our lives as above ourselves, we can then listen to Him. We are to listen to God.  It's humbly accepting His wisdom and advice and instruction from others. It’s acknowledging that, “Hey, maybe I don’t have my life as put together as I thought so I should value what others may be holding me accountable to.”

Halfhearted faith looks reasonable. But what else does halfhearted faith in God look like? 3. Halfhearted faith is idolatrous. Vv. 14-16 Halfhearted faith can look moral and reasonable at times, but at other times it can straight up just look like what it actually is: the worship of little gods.

It really is amazing that after being delivered this miraculous victory by God that Amaziah deliberately turns away from Him by taking the idols of gods of the people he just conquered, then worships them.

On top of that, it does not make any sense at all that anyone would ever want to worship the gods of the people that could not and did not protect their own people. In response to his idolatry, an unnamed prophet asks him this very question – “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?” To which Amaziah responds by threatening him but then the prophet leaves him knowing that God has determined to leave him to his own devices.

Amaziah no longer takes wise counsel. He straight up stopped listening! But that is what happens when we allow our little gods, our little idols, to take priority over God Himself. Despite our faith, we too can lift up idols in our own lives both consciously and not!

So, we know halfhearted faith looks moral, it looks reasonable at times and in other times, it’s downright idolatrous. So last but not least what else does halfhearted faith in God look like?

4. Half-hearted faith is ruin. (vv. 7-28) After walking down the path of halfhearted faith long enough, it will eventually lead to our own demise.

Joash, the king of Israel, knew that this was a bad idea for Judah to battle Israel and he explains it with an ancient proverb in verse 18. He's calling Judah the thistle and Israel the cedar tree. A tiny little piece of a weed could never stand up to a mighty and strong tree. For a thistle to demand a daughter for his son in this situation would be outrageous because it would have to be the stronger kingdom that demands such a thing in their day and age. That this is exactly what Joash is saying that Amaziah is doing by asking for war. Eventually, the thistle simply gets stepped on. Amaziah is incredibly prideful about his victory over Edom which leads him to think he can take on anybody. Joash is trying to do him a favor by telling him to step down and stay home. Joash was not seeking out Judah’s downfall here.

Amaziah’s halfhearted faith eventually led to his and Judah’s demise. No differently than Amaziah, does our own sin lead us to our own ruin.

 

We are all broken. Yet God in His great love, loved us when we were still weak, when we were still broken. People would rarely die for a righteous person, maybe for a good person someone would dare to die but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:6-8)

We don't have to come to Him having it together. We come to Him as we are and He puts us together.

Half-hearted faith leads to whole-hearted heartache. But church, it doesn’t have to be that way. For God makes a way for us and helps us to live wholeheartedly in Him.

 

Praise Songs:

God is Able, O Come to the Altar, Give us Clean Hands, Doxology