They Feared the Lord, But…

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A picture of a bride and groom kissing, while a mistress is present: adultery

Several times in today’s Bible reading* we read that the people “feared the Lord, but …” (2 Kings 17:32-33, 41) The people appointed their own priests, worshiped their own gods, and served their own idols.

How is it possible to say that someone “feared the Lord” and follow that statement with “, but”?

Wouldn’t that be similar to saying, “I love my wife, but I enjoy dating my old girlfriend.”? That’s the general gist of what the writer of 2 Kings is describing.

Jesus, quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 said that the greatest commandment is to love God with all that you are: your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength. (Matthew 22:37–38)

It would seem that by definition this means that you can’t “fear the Lord, but”. Either you fear the Lord or you don’t.

Our “but” can get us into a lot of trouble. And using our “but”s reveals our heart.


Now, I’m not dismissing immaturity. I’m not dismissing the fact that sometimes, it’s difficult to change our ways. Growing in our relationship with God is just that: growing.

Sometimes, we find ourselves doing the [bad] things we don’t want to do, and don’t do the [good] things that we do want to do. (Romans 7:15–24) The world, the flesh, and the devil are always on the attack. And we often fall for the temptation.

But the direction of our lives should be to progressively become more like Jesus and walk closer and closer to God as we practice the spiritual disciplines: spend time reading and studying God’s Word, prayer, worship, giving, fellowship, tell other people about Jesus, etc.

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
2 Kings 16
2 Kings 17
2 Chronicles 28

This devotional was originally published on July 13, 2021.

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