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October 21, 2013

Cleaning House

Keeping our house clean is a good thing. Yet, how much more important is it to keep clean the spiritual welfare of our households?

Have you ever received that call from a family member or close friend telling you they were "in the area" and would be stopping by any minute? It is amazing. Dishes, laundry, books, toys, etc... that have been out of place for days are put back in their proper place within minutes, or at least strategically positioned in a well-hidden location.

King Josiah was a man who knew how to clean house. Amazingly, he was only eight years old when he became the King of Judah. His father, King Amon, was killed after only two years into his reign. However, during his short tenure as king, Amon "did evil in the sight of the LORD, as his father Manessah had done..." (2 Chronicles 33:22). Not only did Josiah's father leave an evil wake of unfaithfulness to God, Josiah's grandfather Manasseh did not do much better. Manasseh did repent after being taken capture. However, he was the one who originally built many of the carved images that his son Amon would later worship. This is the kingdom and legacy that Josiah inherited.

As men, we have all been given a legacy of some sort. Given the reality of sin within the lives of mankind, all of our legacies will always come with some baggage. While it may not be to the extent of Josiah's corruption and idolatry, it will inevitably involve a plethora of sin issues that have tainted the heritage in one way or another.

Yet, while a legacy or heritage can be a profoundly powerful influence over one's life - it does not necessarily define the future of the next generation. God's grace has the stain-removing potency that can clean up any sin-filled past we can muster up. Within His divine providence, God calls men and women out of darkness and into light. He gives us an opportunity to turn from our sinful past and embrace a grace-filled future. This is exactly what Josiah did.

"And he (Josiah) did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or the left."
2 Chronicles 34:2

Josiah, like many of us, had every excuse in the book to take the so-called low road. He had been given a past of extreme idolatry, and very possibly could have witnessed the murder of his father (2 Kings 21:23; 2 Chronicles 33:24). If there was ever an opportunity for a boy to be angry and bitter over the circumstances of his life, Josiah had that chance. And who would blame him?

Yet, despite his father's sins, despite his grandfather's shortcomings, and despite the corrupted past handed him, Josiah chose to follow God in a big way. He chose the road less traveled and undertook some serious cleaning house within his kingdom.

"...and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images..."
2 Chronicles 34:3

Regardless of his past or the circumstances of his life, Josiah was determined to follow God. In doing so, Josiah relentlessly pursued a life and kingdom that would obey God's Word. This is another essential tenant of our faith that we can glean from Josiah's life: To follow God, we must build our lives upon His Living Word.

"Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes...And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the LORD. Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all of his heart and all his soul..."
2 Chronicles 34:19; 30-31

If we desire to clean house and redeem a legacy or simply make a great legacy a better one, like Josiah, we too must make obedience to God's Word a life quest. Jesus told us multiple times that if we love Him, we need to obey Him (John 14). Obedience is not optional when it comes to our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Our obedience represents the reality of our love of God. One compels the other.

As fathers, our legacy, i.e. the generational heritage we pass onto our children, can and should be one of our highest life priorities. God has placed us in an impact role - one that could echo for generations. Regardless of what legacy we received, we have a chance to give our children a heritage that is defined by Jesus Christ. For most of us, this means we must do some serious house cleaning on a regular basis. Not just a twenty minute clean up we do on the fly when we find out people are visiting. No. We need to follow Josiah's example and make sure all the idols are torn down from their high places. As fathers, we need to set the pace for our household. Our children are watching. They will likely follow us where we've been and continue in the same direction where we're going. It's time to clean house.

Prelude: During one of our last quick clean-ups, my daughter astutely inquired, "Dad, why don't we do this on a regular basis and just keep the house clean?" Good point, eh?

Fatherhood Challenge: This week prayerfully consider if there are any idols and/or high places within your household. Today's idols may not be the carved image type; yet, they are idols just the same. They often involve things or lifestyle choices that take us closer to this world and push us further away from the God we love.

Here is one truth that helps me clean house: Happiness and holiness should go hand in hand. If something or someone makes me feel good, and yet pulls me away from Christ-likeness (less holy), it likely is a high place that needs to be removed from my life.

Unless you have cleaned house recently, there is a good chance that you likely have some high places or idols to be removed. After your assessment, meet with your family to discuss and come up with a plan to keep your house clean before God.

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