Today's devotion from 2 Kings 11-12 Here we see how the mighty have fallen! In the days of Solomon silver was as nothing. Everything was golden. Now, in these days of Joash, the temple has fallen into disrepair and there isn't enough money to adequately repair it. Jehoida, the priest, comes up with a plan to raise some of the money, but even at that they can't raise enough to refurnish the temple entirely. To make matters worse, when Hazael begins to look toward Jerusalem, Joash sends him much of the real wealth of the temple. Upon receiving this tribute, Hazael leaves.
The temple, that once spectacular place where God dwelt among His people, is now an empty, deteriorating shadow of its former self. Yet, is this not as it should be? After all, the people had not properly worshipped God in generations for any significant period of time. Even Jehoash, taught by Jehoiada, and, "did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days," didn't eradicate the pagan idolatry going on in his own kingdom. The temple was in disrepair because the people's hearts were in disrepair.
This reminds me of a defining moment in my ministry. When I lived in midtown Memphis, I became familiar with many church facilities that had beautiful grounds, colorful stained glass, extravagant organs, and enormous sanctuaries that would seat thousands. Yet, midtown was not at that time a lively place. Many people had fled the area, and midtown was left in many ways to gangs, drug dealers, and a community in transition that embraced a culture that had little to do with God.
Unsurprisingly, that meant that many of those wonderful church facilities were in unimaginable disrepair. Some sold to merchants. Some closed down the sanctuaries, unable to afford utilities on the massive structures. Others gritted their teeth and tried to make it. In the end, when we find areas in which God is not important, houses of worship will bare the physical signs of the spiritual neglect. There are always physical signs of spiritual deterioration.
It is no wonder then that when Hazael approaches, they have little faith in God and choose to rid themselves of the last vestiges of worth in His house. Many churches have caved in to the enemy and given him the only things that remained of worth, namely truth and faithfulness.
As you consider these things, when was the last time you looked at your own life for outward signs of inward neglect?