Taking It Personally
In the latter part of his life, master violinist Jascha Heifetz moved from performing to teaching. When he was asked why, he said, "Violin-playing is a perishable art. It must be passed on as a personal skill. Otherwise, it is lost."
A relationship with God is not an art or a skill, but it is a personal thing. You can observe it in others, but that's not the same as having your own relationship with Him. If you rely on others' relationship with God -- your friends, your parents, your pastor -- you're headed for trouble.
A case in point is Joash, the king of Judah. He was one of the Southern Kingdom's few good rulers. When Joash ascended to the throne, one of his main concerns was the repair the temple. He and Jehoiada, the chief priest who led the spiritual revival in Judah, collected money for the work and dispensed it to the workers who did the repairs.
But 2 Kings 12:2 tells a very revealing fact about Joash. It says he "did what was right in the sight of the Lord all the days in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him." As long as Jehoiada was there, the king did fine. But as soon as his spiritual mentor died, Joash's spiritual life fell apart.
And 2 Chronicles 24 gives us the rest of the story: "Now after the death of Jehoiada the leaders of Judah came and bowed down to the king. And the king listened to them. Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass. Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen" (v. 17-19). And it only got worse from there. It's an interesting story, and it's very sobering.
So here's the lesson. If your faith in God needs to be propped up by other people, what happens when those props are taken away? Don't get me wrong; we all need encouragement, we all need instruction, and we all need good examples. But if you're relying on people rather than a personal relationship with God, when those props are taken away, your spiritual life will collapse.
That's why we all need our own relationship, our own time, our own interaction with God. Don't rely solely on Bible teachers to instruct you. Don't rely on your parents' relationship with God, or your mate's prayer life. Develop these things for yourself. Have a regular time of prayer, and a regular time of Bible reading and study. You'll find a personal relationship with God is more rewarding than you can possibly imagine!
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