Who Gets the Credit?

Bible Reading: 2 Kings 13:20-25; 14:1-6, 15-16, 23-24; 2 Chronicles 25:5-24

Amaziah, king of Judah, hired men from Israel's troops to reinforce his army as he went into battle against the Edomites. But God delivered this message: "O king, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the Lord is not with Israel.... Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overthrow" (2C 25:7-8). When Amaziah asked about the money he had already paid, the man of God replied, "The Lord can give you much more than that" (2C 25:9). So the king dismissed the troops and took his own army into battle. God gave them victory. Instead of praising God, however, Amaziah brought back the idols of his defeated enemy and "set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them and burned sacrifices to them" (2C 25:14). He did the very thing that God had rejected the Israelite troops for. When God sent a prophet to express his displeasure, Amaziah rejected his warning. He then self-confidently challenged the Israelites to war, but because he trusted his own strength and the worthless gods of Edom, "God so worked" that Amaziah was captured and defeated by the Israelites (2C 25:20).

We are often careful to seek and follow God's instruction in the face of an impending crisis, relying on his strength to get us through. We recognize that God is sovereign and, despite our efforts, he is ultimately the one who has the power to overcome our struggle. We enter the battle trusting that the Lord can do much more than we can accomplish in our own strength. After God brings triumph, however, we're often quick to take the credit, failing to acknowledge God's help and proudly boasting of what "we" have accomplished. Conversely, we're often quick to place the blame on God when things don't turn out the way we wanted. Instead of increasing our confidence in God, our success or setback causes us to foolishly rely on our own wisdom and strength. Smug in our victory or bitter in our defeat, we attempt to challenge life in our own strength and in our own way. God warns us not to "be so naive and self-confident. ...You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence" (1 Cor. 10:12 Msg). When we place our confidence anywhere but on him, our best efforts may yield absolutely nothing, "for GOD has the power to help or to overthrow" (2C 25:8). Even if we appear to win, we can still miss God's plan and purpose.

Lord, help me rely on you before, during and after the crises in my life. If, like King Amaziah, I have already expended much time, money and effort into trying to accomplish my goals, to no avail, make it clear to me if I should continue my course of action or if you have a different plan in which you desire to give me "much more than that" (2C 25:9). Help me to recognize the true source of my strength and success. Keep my ears attentive to your counsel. Keep my eyes open to your power at work in my life and in the lives of others. Whatever you accomplish, may my joy and confidence in you be increased and may I boast only in you.

"This is what the Lord says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the Lord" (Jer. 9:23-24).