May 18 2023 devotion on 1 Kings 3:3

Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. ~ 1 Kings 3:3

King David has died. The kingdom has passed to Solomon. He is consolidating the kingdom. Taking out some of his enemies. He is walking in the instructions of the Lord but notice – this one word – except. There was one area that he was holding on to. He offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.

It is interesting to note the implications and the consequences of this one area are not immediately seen. But over time it becomes evident that there are consequences for this “except” clause. It is simply a lack of obedience. It is saying that I will obey God except in this one area. It is saying, “God you have all of me…except I want to keep this one area to myself.” We will even rationalize the one area of disobedience and justify it. By holding on to that one thing is like planting seeds in the soil of the soul, eventually it will grow and create a harvest of its own. Not a harvest that you really want to see.

The one area that is so easy to rationalize and justify is the area of forgiveness. Someone does something to us. We get angry. We get hurt. We refuse to forgive. We hold on to it. We justify it by explaining the enormity of the hurt. I know because that is what I have done. It is my “except” clause.

I have learned that if you are going to serve as a pastor you are going to be misunderstood. Misquoted. Someone will distort the truth you speak.  There are plenty of opportunities as a pastor to hold on to unforgiveness.

It is important to note that Jesus put together a dream team of 12 men to lead the church – once he was gone. Two of his dream teamers betrayed him. One that betrayed him had turned into his enemy. The other who betrayed him was an intimate friend. In both cases the wound feels the same. One refused to repent. He took his guilt and shame to the grave. The other confessed. He reconciled. He was eventually restored to leadership. He was even instructed to go and feed the sheep. Notice this in both cases the wound initially feels the same. The scar is still there. The need for forgiveness is there as well. Forgiveness is not an option on the dashboard of living out my Christian life. I am encouraged to forgive. To give it to God. I have noticed that by holding on to unforgiveness I am planting the seeds of bitterness to grow in my soul.

Prayer: Lord Jesus 1 Kings 3 encourages me to live a life of obedience. No exceptions. I am encouraged to love with my heart. Mind. Soul. And strength. I am even challenged to love my neighbor as myself. Help me, Lord Jesus. I can’t do this on my own or in my own strength. I need your empowerment to do it. In Jesus name amen.