The Power of Influence.
2 Chronicles 23-24, 2 Timothy
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. – 2 Timothy 2:22 ESV
For six years Joash, the lone surviving son of King Ahaziah, was hidden in the temple of God by Jehoiada the priest. During those six years, Joash was under the influence of Jehoiada and his wife. He would have been raised to love and respect God. He would have been taught the laws and commands of God. He would have been protected not only from the threats of his own grandmother, Athaliah, the queen, but also the evil influences of the world around him. At the age of seven, Joash was presented to the people as their king. Knowing that there was still a possible threat on his life, Jehoiada arranged for a permanent security force to protect the young king. He positioned armed Levites in the temple. He provided the captains of the army of Judah with spears and shields. “And he set all the people as a guard for the king, every man with his weapon in his hand…” (2 Chronicles 23:10 ESV). During the early years of King Joash’s reign, his mentor, Jehoiada would have a strong influence over his life. Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people with the king, that they would be the Lord’s people. He arranged for the destruction of the house of Baal. He even had Athaliah, the queen, executed. And we’re told that “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest” (2 Chronicles 24:2 ESV). Joash would go on to restore the house of the Lord, the very place where he had found refuse for six years as a young boy. He would reinstate the temple tax and reinstitute the sacrificial system. But then we read, “But Jehoiada grew old and full of days, and died” (2 Chronicles 24:15 ESV). Joash lost his mentor. And it wouldn’t take long for him to fall under the influence of others. “Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them. And they abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols” (2 Chronicles 24:17 ESV). In practically no time at all, Joash would find himself negatively influenced by his peers and falling away from the godly instruction of his mentor, Jehoiada. And the results would be devastating to both Joash and his kingdom.
What does this passage reveal about God?
God had miraculously provided Jehoiada to protect the life of Joash so that he could become the next king of Judah. He was the only surviving descendant of David who would qualify to sit on the throne of Judah. It was essential that Joash live so that God could keep His covenant promise to David. “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16 ESV). It was essential that God orchestrate the preservation of Joash because the ultimate fulfillment of His promise to David was about far more than just an earthly successor to the throne of David. God was going to send His own Son, in human flesh, born into the line of David, to become the ultimate and final King of Israel. When God promised David, “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13 ESV), He was referring both to Solomon, the son of David, and to Jesus, the coming Messiah. So there was far more to God’s promise than an earthly king sitting on a throne in Jerusalem. God was talking about the Savior of the world. So God preserved Joash, and one of the ways He did this was by providing this young man with a protector and spiritual mentor. God arranged for Joash’s life to be spared and his future to be secured by the influence of one single godly man. Paul would prove to have the same kind of influence on the life of Timothy. He would play a major role in Timothy’s spiritual development, providing him with much-needed wisdom and sound counsel that would protect this young man from the evil influences of the world around him. Joash needed Jehoiada in his life. Timothy needed Paul in his life. We all need spiritual mentors and influencers in our lives. And God has a way of providing them all along the way.
What does this passage reveal about man?
We are not meant to live isolated, independent lives. Joash was only as strong as his relationship to his god-given mentor. As long as he listed to Jehoiada, he prospered. But when Jehoiada disappeared off the scene, Joash fell prey to other influences. He sought other counsel. And it would prove to be his undoing. Paul knew that Timothy would be prone to this same problem, so he encouraged and warned him. He told him to find his strength in the grace of God. He reminded Timothy that success in the Christian life required total dependence upon God for all things. He challenged Timothy to see his role as that of a soldier in God’s army, and as a good soldier, he needed to be willing to suffer for the cause of Christ. He would have to remain unencumbered by the distractions of life. He would need to make his goal in life to please his commanding officer. And he would need to remain diligent and hardworking. Timothy was young. He was susceptible to wrong influences. He would find himself easily distracted by the cares of this world and the passions of his own sin nature. So Paul told him to “do you best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the world of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV). Paul’s greatest desire for Timothy was his ongoing sanctification. He wanted to see Timothy mature in his faith and grow in his likeness to Christ. He wanted to see Timothy develop an increasing dependence upon God, so that when the day came that Paul was no longer able to be there for Timothy, he would be able to stand firm, strengthened by his own personal relationship with God. Paul wanted Timothy to be a “vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21 ESV).
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
We all need godly mentors in our lives. But the goal of those mentors should be to point us to greater and greater dependence upon God. It may have been that Jehoiada spent too much time making Joash dependent upon him, when he should have been building Joash’s dependence upon God. Paul knew that he had influence over Timothy, but he would use that influence to make Timothy more dependent upon God. He knew that Timothy’s future success and ultimate spiritual health was going to be reliant upon his relationship with God. As spiritual mentors, we need to remember that we are always to point those under our care to God. We are to encourage them to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” (2 Timothy 2:22 ESV). We cannot provide those things for them. We can model them. But only God can make them possible. We must make sure that those under our care are students of the Word of God, “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV). We must go out of our way to ensure that those we mentor understand that their sanctification is God’s doing, not ours. We cannot make anyone holy. That is completely up to God. Making anyone dependent upon us is a dangerous mistake to make. But we must always understand that we have incredible influence over certain individuals who God has placed in our lives. We must teach them, encourage them, model Christ-likeness for them, and point them to God for His grace, mercy, love and life-transforming power.
Father, I want to be a positive influence in the lives of others. I want to point people to You, not me. I want to mentor well and model Christ-likeness effectively. Never let me forget that I have the power to influence others for good or for bad. I want to live in such a way that my life is a constant influence on others, showing them their need for Christ and their total dependence upon You for everything in their lives. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men