Tag Archives: unequally yoked

Jeremiah 35-41; Ishmael in Your Home

God tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. (2 Corinthians 6:14) Many believe that to apply to marriage, which it does. But Paul wasn’t even talking about marriage when he said it. You get his full message when you read on:

What do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Can light and darkness exist together? Do Christ and Satan live in harmony? Do believers have anything in common with non-believers? Does the Church agree with idolatry? (from 2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

In fact, God says: Come out from among them and be separate… (verse 17)

I thought of that when I read that Governor Gedaliah got chummy with Ishmael. Even the governor’s advisors saw past Ishmael’s fake smile, and warned Gedaliah that Ishmael was up to no good. But Gedaliah said, “No way! We’re BFF’s! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true.” (Jeremiah 40:16)

Do you find yourself with the same attitude? “Hanging out with non-believers won’t hurt me.” “Marrying an unbeliever won’t effect my walk with the Lord.” “Accepting half-truths, or tolerating outright lies about Scripture won’t weaken my commitment, or the Church.”

Allowing himself to get close enough to Ishmael that he trusted him more than his own advisors, wound up killing Gedaliah. Getting too close to ungodliness will destroy us, too.

Come out from among them!

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get to know non-Christians in order to share the Savior with them. We are all told to go and make disciples. Paul said he became all things to all people in order to win some of them.

But I believe God would have us examine who are the people closest to us. Who do we trust, confide in, fellowship with? Are they grounded in Scripture, walking with the Lord, holding us accountable? Or are they people who don’t believe like we do, and don’t have an interest in our relationship with God?

Are we trying to get light and darkness existing together? Are we trying to make Jesus and Satan get along?

Gedaliah got close to someone who only wanted him dead. Do you realize Satan wants the same thing of you? Gedaliah died because he blindly trusted an enemy of God. Do you understand that anyone who does not believe in Jesus is God’s enemy, too?

Being yoked in marriage, socially, politically, at the job, or at the gym, with unbelievers is like inviting Ishmael into your home. It’s the same fatal mistake Gedaliah made.

Choose your friends wisely, dear one. It could be a matter of life and death.

2 Kings 3-5; Taking A Knee

Got your attention, didn’t I? This whole protest drama against our flag, our National Anthem, and our country is on the news 24/7. And social media is having a hay day. We Americans just love living with a reality TV show mentality.

I, like everyone else in the world, have an opinion on the matter. But I’m not going to spout my opinion about that here. I’d much rather talk about Naaman and Elisha, and what Naaman had to say about taking a knee.

You know the story. Little Jewish servant girl tells her mistress how the master, Naaman, could be healed of leprosy if he’d ago see God’s prophet, Elisha. Naaman goes. Elisha refuses to meet with him but sends word to Naaman how he could be healed. Naaman is insulted, and turns to go away. One of his men talks sense into Naaman, who then goes to the Jordan River, dips under the water seven times, and is healed.

Now here is what I want us to consider today. Naaman, probably dripping wet, goes back to Elisha. The prophet seems to be waiting for him. Naaman tells Elisha, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (5:15) He promises to never again worship any other god but the Lord. Naaman is not only clean on the outside, he’s a new man from within.

Then Naaman says this:

But may the Lord forgive your servant for this one thing: When my master enters the temple of Rimmon to bow down and he is leaning on my arm and I bow there also – when I bow down in the temple of Rimmon, may the Lord forgive your servant for this. (5:18)

Naaman worked for the king of Aram, a man who worshiped the false god Rimmon. The king sounds like he might have been feeble, because he leans on Naaman to get around. And that would include going into the temple of Rimmon, taking a knee so his master could bow in worship.

Now some of you will say Naaman should have just quit his job, maybe refused to go into that sinful place, or just stayed with Elisha where he wouldn’t have to take a stand at all.

“Judge not,” dear one.

I believe this is the true interpretation of the most misquoted verse in the Bible. Please read Matthew 7:1-5. There is much more to Jesus’ message than verse 1.

Naaman had taken care of the plank in his own eye, the sin in his own life. Then, according to what I read in 2 Kings, he is going back to minister to the king of Aram.

Paul, in I Corinthians 9:19-23 talks about becoming all things to all men. Why? So everyone would like him? So he could get ahead in life? No. He identified with everyone in order to introduce them to their Savior.

In a sense, Naaman is asking Elisha not to judge him if, in his association with the king, he goes into the pagan temple and actually takes a knee. In fact, Naaman is asking Elisha, and God, to forgive him for what will appear to be sin.

“I’m going to be doing my job, Lord, not worshiping that idol.”

And just maybe, the king will notice a change in Naaman and ask him to explain the hope he has, may ask him about Naaman’s God, and may even come to faith in God because of Naaman’s willingness to address the speck in the king’s eye, now that the plank is out of his own.

If God is leading Naaman back to the king of Aram, don’t judge Naaman for not doing what you think a believer should do.

HOWEVER… if you’re using I Corinthians 9 as an excuse to hang out at bars, or associate with dishonest people, or any number of sinful activities stop right there. Because Scripture also tells us to resist evil, live separate lives, not to be linked with unbelievers. It certainly doesn’t give us permission to sin, thinking that is a way to represent God to people who need Him.

Here’s where the “don’t judge” thing comes into play. The only ones who know your heart are you and God. If He hasn’t called you to serve Him by representing Him among the partiers, or the ungodly, or… whoever… then you need to go where He IS calling you. Really calling you.

Can a person associate with sinners and not sin? I believe Scripture is saying exactly that in the verses we’ve looked at today. But I also believe there is a dangerously thin line between associating with sinners for the right reasons, and participating in the sin. Just beware.

I won’t judge your heart. But I will call you out if you are sinning, if that speck in your eye needs addressing. And I want you to do the same for me.

September 25 – But I Just Want To Be Married

Ezra 7-10

If you are single, you would probably agree it’s not easy meeting people these days. If you’re a Christian, do you really want to go bar hopping in hopes of meeting Mr or Ms Right? Churches aren’t necessarily a hot spot for young singles to meet. The internet is scary, and your dear aunt might mean well, but her friend’s nephew just isn’t your type. Your married friends find married friends, and you find yourself tempted to settle for the next single person who comes along.

Don’t.

The Bible uses marriage as an example of the relationship between God and His people. It’s sacred and holy and exclusive and self-sacrificing, and blessed by God if the two are of one mind and heart. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14) is not a suggestion.

Read Ezra’s book to see how serious God is about that.

I believe this is a warning to any of you who are dating a non-believer. You might think you can bring that person around, or that their lack of interest in church is no big deal. Please, think again.

I have no magic potion that will cause your perfect spouse to appear. I can only pray that you will nurture your relationship with your Heavenly Bridegroom, and not settle for someone who doesn’t love Him as much as you do.

Dear God, you created men and women for a reason. When you said it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, you created Eve. It’s not easy being single. But I know for a fact that being single is not the end of the world. I know that being single is better than being in an unhealthy marriage. And I know that when a Christian is married to a non-Christian, there are added problems and temptations You do not want us to experience. So, Father, would you protect Your single children out there? I pray that they will wait for Your timing, that they will be busy doing things You prompt them to do in sharing the Gospel. Would You give each one direction until they meet that person who will encourage them in their relationship with You, who will glorify You in a marriage? Give strength and patience that will lead to a lifetime of serving You with a godly husband or wife.

June 7 – Guilt By Association

Proverbs 13-15

“You are who your friends are.” Ever been on the receiving end of that hard truth? As a middle school counselor, I had to address it often. Hanging out with a bully, going along with bullying, being a silent partner makes you a bully. It’s a hard lesson for kids – and adults to learn.

You might not drink alcohol or have casual sex. But if you continue to associate with the crowd that does, people will lump you together with them. Your reputation will be the same as their’s.

Is that the reputation you want as a follower of Jesus? And don’t say, if that ‘s what they want to think about me, it’s their problem. No, dear one. What they think about you is YOUR problem.

Proverbs warns us to choose our friends carefully. 13:2 says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

14:7 says, “Leave the presences of a fool, or you will not discern words of knowledge.”

Who are the people you hold closest? Are they strong in their commitment to the Lord? Do they have reputations for being honest, kind, trustworthy, having integrity?

Solomon says if we hang out with fools, we’ll eventually become foolish. The reverse is true, too.

A thought keeps coming to mind as I write this. In this day of technology, a question we might ask ourselves is, who do we associate with online? What sites do we frequent? Who do we listen to?

And what TV shows do we watch? Does the humor, or the content agree with Scripture? Can we guard our hearts and still tune in week after week to shows that promote sin?

Solomon warns us that if we spend time with fools, and I think that could include time in front of the TV or computer screen, we will eventually become fools ourselves.

September 17

Ezra 8:15-10:44; I Chronicles 3:17-24

Many Israelites had married foreign wives. It was an act of blatant disobedience toward God. The marriages themselves weren’t the only problem. The Israelite men allowed their foreign wives to bring their false religions into their homes.

The New Testament warns us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Why is that? What’s the big deal?

We are commanded to be holy as God is holy. He does not tolerate sin, he does not condone sin, he is not in the presence of sin. And he demands the same of us. We are to guard our hearts. We are to flee temptation. We are to live lives set apart so God can be revealed in our lives. There is a thin line between being involved in the lives of unsaved friends in order to win them to the Lord and being legally, financially, emotionally identified with them.

The Israelites we read about in Ezra had to send their wives and any children they had by them back to their foreign countries. Their association with those idol worshipers had to stop no matter how deeply “in love” they were.

I don’t know what relationships you are in. But if you are dating a non-Christian I can tell you without hesitation you have to end it. The Bible is so clear about that. Trust God to honor your obedience. Don’t expect him to bless you if you are disobeying him.

If you are already married to a non-believer I’m not going to pretend to know how to counsel you. Maybe you went into the relationship unequally yoked or maybe you have become a believer since your wedding day. All I know is that you are going to have to work hard to stay true to God. 

What do you do if your spouse begs you to sleep in Sunday morning because that’s the only time you have together this week? What do you do if your spouse wants you to run errands together during the time you have set aside to read your Bible? What happens when your spouse wants to take the kids shopping or fishing instead of them going to church with you? The choices are endless and difficult. You will spend your life balancing being a godly man or woman, a loving and supportive spouse, a parent raising children to honor God, and a person caught in the middle.

God’s demand that we not be unequally yoked with unbelievers wasn’t given because God is a buzz-kill. It was given so that our lives would be better, happier, our homes more loving and united. I’m not advocating divorce on the basis that a spouse isn’t a Christian, don’t get me wrong. God hates divorce. I am advocating Christians date only Christians, however. And I am certainly telling you God demands Christians marry only Christians.

If you are in a dating relationship with a non-believer I am praying that you will have the courage to walk away before it’s too late. If that relationship is more important than God’s will for your life you have already brought an idol into your home.

If you are in an unequally yoked marriage I am praying for you today. May God give you strength and resolve to follow him without compromise. I pray for your spouse that he or she will see in you something that is better than what they have without God. I pray for wisdom, for love, for patience, for confidence, and direction.

May God be glorified in all our relationships.

June 23

2 Chronicles 24:17-27, 25:1-10; 2 Kings 2:17-18, 4:1-44, 13:4-11, 8:1-6, 12:19-21, 14:1-6

Amaziah wanted to do the right thing. He prepared the men of Judah for battle and even paid a hundred thousand Israeli soldiers to fight with them. It cost the king about 4 tons of silver, but with the extra troops Amaziah felt Judah was unstoppable.

But God sent word to Amaziah to send the Israelite soldiers home. The nation of Israel was still disobeying God and God could not go with them into battle. In fact, even if they fought courageously God would overthrow Judah for uniting with Israel.

Amaziah said – what about all my silver? And the man of God told him, “God can give you much more than that.”

Paul warns us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14) for the same reason Amaziah was warned to separate himself from Israel’s army. It’s one thing to befriend an unsaved person with the intent of leading him to the Lord. It’s another to join forces with non-believers and find yourself compromising to do so.

Remember God can’t tolerate sin and if you hitch your wagon to a sinner God won’t bless you. And if you find yourself worried about what you’ve invested in the relationship, remember the words of the man of God in 2 Chronicles 25:9. 

The Lord can give you so much more than that.