If you or someone you know have ever thought the Bible a boring read, head to the book of Judges. What a crazy, twisted, horrific turn of events. One minute, the Israelites are entering the Promised Land. The next, they are murdering, raping, kidnapping and mutilating their own.
Not exactly a heartwarming tale to read to your little ones, but an interesting page-turner that will cause you to have to remind yourself that this stuff actually happened. What caused this grotesque way of living? What changed in the hearts of the people as they twisted and abandoned their obedience to God?
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
These are the last words in the book of Judges. Words that were repeated multiple times throughout the book. They provide much insight into the people’s disturbing way of life, and if we look closely, into our lives as well.
How we see fit
It can feel very unsettling when we listen to people express their faith in Jesus while using the same breath to talk about their unbiblical beliefs. A couple examples being a homosexual lifestyle or sexual activity before marriage, to name a few that are ingrained in our culture as normal and encouraged, even among many churches these days.
And while it’s easy to point at those people and say, “They are doing as they see fit, not as God has commanded,” we easily forget how often we ourselves do as we see fit.
We may not engage in activity that the Bible clearly states as sinful, but all too often, like the Israelites in the time of Judges, we do as we see fit and tie a “Godly” bow around it to ensure it looks like we’re following God’s desires.
Maybe this takes shape in not serving at church or in the community, using the excuse that we’re incredibly busy, and God doesn’t call us to serve under those circumstances. Maybe it looks like using words that aren’t glorifying to God or drinking too much around certain people, using the excuse that we need to reach the lost, and we can’t do that if we aren’t willing to meet people where they are.
Not everything proves so blatant, though. Gossip becomes “conversation of concern” for that person. Not spending time with God because of a busy schedule becomes a way to “learn how to pray throughout the day” instead of setting time aside for Him. Ignoring that person who hurt you to avoid conflict becomes “learning how to forgive without dragging her into my feelings.”
Yes, we all do how we see fit in one way or another. But look at what happened to the Israelites when they acted that way.
Conviction and strength
The Israelites hadn’t completely turned their backs on God. They still sought His guidance every once in a while. They still made vows to Him from time to time, and they still followed judges appointed by God when it was convenient for them. But they wrapped God’s commandments in their own agendas. They followed God but thought they needed other options just in case, so they turned to other gods and relied upon themselves and their own strength.
And they were met with death. They were met with violence and slavery. With towns so unsafe they feared for their lives simply walking through the square. Suddenly, living life by their own agendas turned day-to-day living into a nightmare.
How often do we do the same? We know what the Bible says. We know when we take scripture out of context or decide we don’t agree with that verse because it doesn’t help us meet our selfish and sinful desires. Then we act as if we’re still following God when we’re actually just doing as we see fit.
Many of us are not leading lives extremely contrary to scripture, but doesn’t it make Satan pleased when we give ourselves the excuse that “it isn’t a big deal in comparison”? When we wrap our agendas in a Christian phrase to ensure we don’t have guilt?
It’s difficult to say how to easily break this habit. Instructing someone to simply follow God above sinful desires is easier said than done. Throwing out Christian phrases is lost these days, as people are easily offended and those speaking are often harsh.
There are two things to pray for, though, that may help you discern and grow in your area of doing as you see fit.
Conviction and strength.
Pray for conviction to know how you are twisting God’s commands. Then pray for strength to admit your sin and do something about it. Again, easier said than done, but God doesn’t want you to fail. He doesn’t want you to stray. So as you pray for conviction and strength, the Holy Spirit will guide you and help you. If you are willing and responsive, you can break away from this mentality. It’s not easy, it’s not pretty, but it’s worth it.
Following God proves more fulfilling than following our own ideas of happiness or a full life. We cannot comprehend God’s ways, but we must not let that turn us from Him or scare us into thinking we need a fallback for life. Instead, we must head toward Him, constantly seeking His desires above our own.
Let’s Talk About It: How do you think you will mature in faith if you stop doing as you see fit?