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A muddy ditch is nowhere to live

Rev. R.A. Mathews Special to The Star

Don’t be fooled—words to live by.

Yet we’ve all been there. Remember that scrumptious-looking dessert on the menu that was sad when you got it; the infomercials touting wonder products that find a dusty place in the garage; the shyster repairmen, mechanics, lawyers—every profession has them. You live and you learn: Don’t be fooled.

That’s the advice King Hunan of Ammon gets from his commanders. It’s roughly 1,000 B.C. and Hunan’s father has just died leaving him the kingdom.

Ammon looks vulnerable, sitting as the only nation on Israel’s east flank that hasn’t been defeated by King David. And Hunan’s commanders tell Hunan not to be fooled when a delegation arrives from Israel to express sympathy for Hunan's father. The commanders believe David’s men are there to spy out the country to conquer it.

So Hunan seizes the Hebrews, shaves off half of their beards, cuts their garments with their buttocks exposed, and sends them back. It’s an invitation for war, and King Hunan buys an army to fight David.

That doesn’t end well—Ammon is defeated and Hunan becomes a great oaf of Scripture. David had extended kindness to Hunan because he owed Hunan’s father a favor. Had Hunan asked a few questions, the Ammonites might have lived peacefully with Israel throughout David’s reign. Instead, they end up as Israel’s slaves, working with saws, iron picks, and axes. (II Samuel 10:1-11:1, I Chronicles 18:1-20:3)

Don’t be fooled—words to live by.

They’ve never been more important than today. Countless Christian families have been touched by adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and abortion. What do people of faith do when a loved one is committed to these acts? A Christian celebrity recently said, “I don’t judge.” That’s become the saying of the day, the mantra of many Christians.

Jesus said, “Judge not lest you be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

But don’t be fooled. Jesus doesn’t stop there.

Remember the famous story of the woman caught in adultery? She’s apparently dragged from the act and thrown before Jesus by men ready to stone her.

Jesus says, “Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.”

One by one the accusers leave. Then Jesus tells her that he doesn’t condemn her either. (John 8:3-11)

But is that where the story ends?

Think a moment, this is important. What else does Jesus say?

Here it is—Jesus’ final words: “Go and sin no more.”

He doesn’t say, “I don’t judge you, and it’s okay to do what you’re doing.” Jesus says, “Go and sin no more.”

Adultery is a sin. So is fornication, homosexuality, abortion. When God brought His people out of Egypt, He chose them to be separate, to belong to Him. There, in the desert, He set forth rules.

His people are to leave behind the evil ways of the Egyptians. One rule says you shall not have relations with your mother. Why would God need to say that? What were the Egyptians doing? (Leviticus 18:7)

God also wants His people separate from the evil Canaanites, where they’re headed.

So Scripture provides light. But how great is the darkness when a Christian says, “I don’t know what sin is.”

We stand on God’s rules, speaking them, teaching them. Otherwise, we’re the same as those outside the church.

Yes, tell your loved one, “I don’t judge you.” But never forget how Jesus ends the story.

Scripture is filled with foolhardy behavior, oafs leading oafs. Hunan suffered disastrous consequences. So did the whole kingdom of Israel. A thousand years after Hunan, Paul warns the Thessalonians of Satan’s lies. Paul says, “Stand firm.” Don’t be fooled. (II Thessalonians 2:9-15)

When your loved one falls in a muddy ditch and intends to live there, committed to unrepentant sin, you can accept that. But you’re abandoning your loved one to a life without God.

Speak the truth. We’re all sinners. Any sin can be covered by Christ’s blood. But to be reunited with God we must repent and ask for forgiveness. (I John 1:9,7)

Know your Bible. Study every day with the Holy Spirit. Stay close to God in prayer and repentance.

Don’t be fooled. A life of unrepentant sin is a life without God.

Copyright © 2019 R.A. Mathews The Rev. Mathews is a faith columnist, attorney, and the author of “Reaching to God.” You may contact her at letters@RAMathews.com.