My Grandma Merna believed in fairness. She wanted everything to be fair for her family. Her compulsion to fairness always showed up at Christmas. She would, of course, spend the same amount of money on every grandchild. But she wouldn’t stop there. Every grandchild had to have the same number of gifts under the tree, so it would be fair. They were usually sized the same as well! When Santa came overnight, he miraculously believed as she did, and every grandchild received the same number of gifts from him too.
1 Kings 13 tells the story of a man of God who was sent with a message from God to King Jeroboam. The Bible doesn’t name the man of God, so let’s call him Frank.
King Jeroboam didn’t like the message, so he ordered the guards to seize Frank. But as his hand stretched out, pointing toward Frank, it shriveled up so he couldn’t pull it back.
As you can imagine, it scared the dickens out of him. Amazingly, he had a change of heart. He asked Frank to pray for the restoration of his hand. God answered. Did this change Jeroboam’s heart? Of course not. But he did see the wisdom of having a man of Frank’s stature on his side so he invited him to dinner.
Frank declined. In verse 8 he says, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. For I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’”
He heads home.
Another “old prophet” hears about Frank’s response (Gossip chains were alive and well, even in biblical times). He saddles up his donkey, chases after him, and invites Frank to dinner. Frank gives the same response.
The old prophet says, “I too am a prophet as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’”
Frank listens. Returns. Eats. Then...dies for his disobedience.
It’s not fair.
What about the old prophet who lied?
We all know that life isn’t fair, but stories like this tweak our fairness meter, and make us question God. God’s fairness meter will never be tweaked, even when we don’t understand how it works. We can trust Him. Others…maybe not so much.
I don’t know why the story unfolds this way. But I have thought about who I listen to.
I had a church member once tell me that “God told me that you were supposed to put me on the worship team.” She couldn’t sing well enough. I had the wisdom to respond with, “When He tells me too, I’ll do it.”
Then again, I’ve done lots of things where I felt like the Lord was saying no and others (godly people) were pushing for yes. And then, whatever it was bombed. I listened the wrong way (fortunately death hasn’t been the result…yet).
We, who follow Christ, have the same power that raised Him from death, living in us. God speaks to us. He leads us. Who will we listen to? Will we cultivate the discipline required to recognize His voice and obey when He speaks? Will we have the courage to say no, when others are saying yes? Or yes, when others are saying no?
Frank would tell you to listen to and obey God.