Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Guarding personal character when under Pressure

Read Isaiah 39.

Under pressure from the Assyrians, any words of kindness would have been more than welcomed by Hezekiah.  History reports that the King of Babylon rebelled against Sennacherib and was actually deposed by him.  With the stated pretense of checking on Hezekiah's health, the Babylonians may have been looking for an ally.  Flattered by such attention, Hezekiah wanted to impress these visitors.  It is obvious that instead of giving God the glory for all His blessings, Hezekiah took credit.  Whatever the motive of the Babylonians, they now knew of all Judah's treasures.

The LORD sent Isaiah to confront Hezekiah concerning his pride and lack of discernment.  Indeed, the Babylonians later overthrew Assyria and then returned to conquer Judah.  One cannot read Hezekiah's response to the prophecy without sensing his self-focus.  

1. Beware of flattery.
This is especially so when it comes from those whom you do not know.  Receive the kind words at surface value with a "thank you" and then move on.  The admitted downfall of so many well-known people came when they began believing the flattering words others were saying about them.

2. Beware of a lust for kindness.
When people people are under great pressure or in pain, there can be a lustful longing for any encouragement from nearly any source.  The emotions desire a pleasurable escape, even if temporary.  The devil knows how to provide the wrong sort of such escapes.

3. Beware of a lack of discretion.
At all times, we need to guard our thoughts and our words.  We need God's wisdom to discern daily interactions with other people.  Being prudent and careful about our behaviors is an indication of personal character.

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