It feels like you’ve suddenly hit some kind of time warp. Everything seems unusually slow. You been traveling at 100 kilometres an hour when you see the ‘road works’ signs. Your foot comes off of the accelerator and you let the car drop back to 80 kilometres an hour. Well at least, that’s what you should do.
I recently went through a road works area on the freeway and had to slow down for a section of my journey. While there were a few other drivers taking notice of the change in speed limit, most people just kept going at 100 or more. Cars were whizzing past me on both sides. Those traveling in my lane starting banking up behind me, probably cursing the moron who was slowing down the traffic flow. At a time like that it’s hard to remember that holding the car on 80 kilometres an hour is the right thing to do. If no one else is paying attention to the rules, is it really making any sense for me to waste my time? Do I really want everyone else cursing me for doing the right thing? Surely it’s easier to just go with the flow. Despite what everyone else is doing, sometimes you have to hold 80.
There wasn’t a lot of risk involved for me in either slowing down or speeding. The choice was to earn the scorn of other drivers or risk a fine. I chose the scorn. Other people put a lot more on the line when they go against the prevailing thought.
There’s a guy in the Old Testament named Micaiah who dares to go against prevailing thought and stand up to the kings of two nations. He chose to do so even though 400 other ‘prophets’ had already given a different opinion. Surely the majority had to be right.
5 So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, 400 of them, and asked them, “Should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?”
They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! God will give the king victory.”
6 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.”
7 The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”
Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”
8 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”
– 2 Chronicles 18:5-8
Did you notice what the king of Israel said? “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me!” Talk about shooting the messenger. He hates Micaiah because he doesn’t stroke the king’s ego by telling him what he wants to hear.
How often do we only allow ourselves to be surrounded by those who agree with us? How often have we dismissed those who bring us the truth, as difficult as it may be sometimes? Do we seek out people who have permission to challenge us or only those who will say what we like hearing?
After a bit of banter between Micaiah and the kings, Micaiah tells them the news they don’t want to hear. He tells them that God doesn’t want them to go to war. The king of Israel then sends Micaiah off to prison with orders that he be put on strict rations of bread and water.
As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, they go to war and it all ends in tears for the king of Israel. And by tears I mean death. Not being willing to take notice of what he didn’t want to hear caused his demise.
The 400 prophets said what the king wanted to hear, but it certainly didn’t benefit him. In the end, the fact that they wanted to please the king and weren’t prepared to stand on the side of right made them complicit in his death.
Holding my speed at 80 kilometres an hour was really no big deal but there are times, and I think we’ll see more and more of them in coming days, when we’ll need to ‘hold 80’ on various issues because we know it’s the right thing to do. Everyone else maybe doing something different and we may start to feel that we might as well just go with the flow, but we know that we need to stand firm.
We don’t want to be ‘people pleasers’ who just say what others want us to say. We don’t want to be those who point the finger and expect everyone to fall in line with our views. We simply need to hear clearly from God and then not be afraid to stand. Whatever the issue and whatever pressure there is to keep moving with the majority, sometimes we need to hold 80.
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