It seems one can’t attend a gathering of church leaders without hearing a sad discussion about some brother or sister who has fallen. Sometimes it almost seems like having a fulfilling and successful life in the Lord is just as much about the things you DON’T do, as the things you DO. Sure, giftedness is important, and attitude, and a good team, and vision, and all of that. But you can have all of that and blow it just once and have it all come crashing down.
There is always forgiveness and grace; and none of us (especially me) is in any way close to the holiness God deserves. I love this obituary of David: “For David had done what was right in the eyes of the Lord and had not failed to keep any of the Lord’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5).
Oh sure, he committed murder and adultery, but that was the exception. Somehow, through it all, God said David was a “man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22).
David left an amazing legacy, but his son who received it, Solomon, didn’t.
Solomon asked God for wisdom and God liked his attitude so much he gave him all the rest.
[God speaking] “There will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you . . . both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And . . . a long life.” . . . He [Solomon] returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord’s covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then he gave a feast for all his court (1 Kings 3:12-15).
It just doesn’t get any better than this! Solomon is the most interesting (and rich and powerful and blessed) man in the world.
So what does he do? He throws it all away, of course.
King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women. . . . They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. . . . So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done (1 Kings 11:1, 2, 6, author emphasis).
Did you notice the two words that sum up the entire demise of the kingdom of Israel? However and nevertheless. It’s inconceivable! The entire nation was flushed down the toilet with two words.
How could there be a however? Why would there be a nevertheless? If God is doing all this stuff in your life—why in the world would you—why would anyone—have a however?
Oh, I don’t know. It happens all the time. And it’s so dumb, and so sad. Everything is going well, and then we throw in a however.
These are the same two words you will always hear in conjunction with a sad story of leadership failure. I know what God said, however, I thought I could handle it/get away with it/try it for a little while, etc. I know what God wants, nevertheless, I’m going to try to do it my way and see how that works out.
God, I know you are good and you are sovereign and your ways are best—and you’ve proved it over and over again—but I just think I’m going to try a “however” and see how it goes.
It makes me wonder about the timing of Solomon’s words in Proverbs 5:7, 8, 11: “Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her [adultery/unfaithfulness], do not go near the door of her house. At the end of your life you will groan.”
At the end of your life, your sin can be your exception, like it was for David, or it can be your groan, an outward cry from a broken heart/family/marriage/church/legacy.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:7-9).
What’s your however?
Tim Harlow serves as senior pastor at Parkview Christian Church in Orland Park, Illinois.