You're Never Too Far Gone

10:49 AMHeather

Apathy is a dangerous thing.  Apathy causes a person to not even try, to settle and compromise.  It's a convenient excuse for those who choose to ignore God's ways.  We see apathy in the most horrible evil men who don't care about people or God or really even what happens to themselves.  But, we also see apathy in those who sit in church pews Sunday after Sunday.  Apathy causes someone to play the part of a Christian, even with good intentions, but simply unwilling or unsure of how to truly live out their faith in a radical way.   Apathy tells you that it's okay to just keep doing what you're doing--it's good enough.  And apathy tells you that you've already missed the mark so much, there's nothing you can do.  Apathy tells you that you are too far gone anyway.  Apathy dulls your mind, your heart, and your conscience--lulling you into a mediocre existence--or worse.

When it comes to apathy, Manasseh is a perfect Biblical example.  The king of Israel at age 12, Manasseh allowed apathy to overtake him.  2 Chronicles 33 paints a pretty unflattering picture of this king.  It says that he did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the "detestable" practices of the heathen nations who had driven out Israel.  Think about it.  Apathy set in, and Manasseh just went with the flow.  He followed the culture.  He didn't care enough to swim upstream against the society surrounding him.  He didn't care enough to follow the God of his fathers.  He didn't care to choose differently, to choose well, to choose the narrow path.  

Apathy led Manasseh to do the following.  He rebuilt the altars for idol worship that is very own God-fearing father, Hezekiah, had demolished.  Talk about a rebel.  Not only that, he built more altars to more idols.  He dared to build altars for idols in the very temple of God.  A slippery slope, I'd imagine.  First, he loses interest in Godly things.  Then, he just naturally follows the crowd.  Next, he rebels against the teachings of his dad.  And he takes it a step further.  Until it leads to this grim description. 

6 He sacrificed his children in the fire 
in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced 
divination and witchcraft, sought omens, 
and consulted mediums and spiritists. 
He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, 
arousing his anger. 
2 Chronicles 33:6

I somehow doubt that Manasseh, a preteen king, set out with child sacrifice in mind.  But, he got there.  Slowly.  He first allowed apathy into his heart, refusing to recognize it's poison. And then it began to grow and dig its claws in until sin had taken Manasseh further than he ever meant to go, faster than he meant to get there.  Forgetting, or not caring or both, that his role set a precedent and others were watching his every move. Manasseh eventually became a plumb line.  He set an ungodly standard that the people of Israel eventually adapted.  And, "the people of Israel did more evil than the nations that the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites" (v. 9). 

That's how apathy works.  First, you don't care enough.  Then you don't care at all.  And others follow suit.  Because they are watching.  Each of us are a role model--we just have to decide what we are modeling.  And God spoke to Manasseh AND his people--and they paid no attention.  Again, a product of apathy.  When we don't care enough about Godly things, we pay them and eventually HIM no mind.  The thing is that obedience to God brings blessing.  And disobedience brings discipline.  Which is what eventually happened to Manasseh.  The armies of Assyria came and conquered, and took him prisoner, with a hook in his nose and shackles on his feet. Once a mighty king.  Now a laughing stock in the hands of his enemy.

Got what he deserved, huh?  Apathy led Eve to take the apple. She entertained the serpent's suggestions because she didn't care enough about God's instructions to recognize deceit at its first appearance.  Surely, Manasseh was well deserving of what happened.  As a victim of an evil culture initially, he came to a place of leading others into evil, as well.  Misery loves company, right?  So, apathy led to imprisonment.  

Glimpse of grace:  Oh, but the far reaching arms of God's grace brings our story another chapter.  Because of God's favor, Manasseh did not languish in the consequences of not caring enough.  No, the truth is that you're NEVER too far gone for another chance.

In his distress he sought the favor 
of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly 
before the God of his ancestors.  
13 And when he prayed to him, the LORD 
was moved by his entreaty and listened to 
his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem 
and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh 
knew that the LORD is God. 
2 Chronicles 33:12-13

I look at that last line and think--DUH.  Manasseh should have known that the Lord is God.  He was surely taught it from his parents.  They showed him right from wrong, choosing God's way.  But, even with the best of intentions, the best of parenting, the best of role models--we can sometimes fall prey to the danger of apathy.  If we don't care ENOUGH, we'll get to a point of not caring at ALL.  Like the old saying that if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

But here is the blessed assurance.  Here is the truth to claim, the promise to stand on.  No matter how great our sin, no matter how long our pattern of bad habits--the Lord is MOVED when we humble ourselves greatly and seek his favor.  That is what Manasseh did.  He humbled himself.  He made the choice to seek God's favor instead of his own pleasure.  He took a stand and said enough is enough--I want MORE than this path I've been choosing.  He got disgusted enough with himself that he submitted and surrendered to the Sovereign God.  And, God was moved.  

Yes, bloggy friends, God is moved by our humility.  God is moved by our entreaties.  God listens to our pleas.  He hears every word  and then some. Because he knows our thoughts and our hearts.  And his grace is big enough.  His favor is wide enough for you to dive in at any point, from any circumstance.  

If you are imprisoned with fear or anxiety or sin or bad choices or ungodly habits, then I have an encouraging word for you.  When you care enough to be distressed and seek the Lord, the God of this Universe is MOVED.  He is moved to action, and He will take you back.  And in his arms, you return to His kingdom and His ways, just as Manasseh was returned to his own kingdom.  God wasn't through with Manasseh.  No, he wanted to do more for and through him.  Look at 2 Chronicles 33:14-15 to see the details.  Rest assured--no matter where you are, no matter how much apathy has dug its claws into you, you're never too far gone.  When we return to Him and experience his grace that covers our mistakes, then we KNOW that the Lord is God. 

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