In the book of I Samuel chapter 15, Samuel advises King Saul of the Lord’s Will.
In verses 2-3 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: “I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3 Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”
Saul sent off all of his army to do what the Lord had asked, but in the end he changed one part of the plan – he spared King Agag and kept the best of the animals. So Saul decided to destroy only what was worthless to him and spare what was appealing. In Saul’s mind I am sure he justified why this was okay. God did not see it that way and in fact says to Samuel, “I am sorry I ever made Saul King.”
Justifying sins is dangerous business. I know when I am sinful, I have a tendency to justify it in my mind. “God would be okay with me making this choice just once.” Or “I really need this because I have done so much for others, it is time to think of me.” I have lots of justifications for things. The scary part is I can justify things to the point where I actually believe myself. I entice myself into sin and make it seem okay.
When Pete and I were first married, he would attend church every Sunday, while I sat at home supposedly looking for my perfect church family. Now, somehow in my mind I justified that it was okay for me not to attend church because I hadn’t found a place that I really liked. I made myself believe that it was okay to watch church on tv or better yet do whatever pleased me because God hadn’t spoken to me about which church to attend. I wasn’t even looking. I barely ever even sought out a place. I asked people about their church, but I rarely tried to attend on a Sunday. So, how on earth did I think I was going to find a church?
My justification was that I was just waiting for a sign from God. I guess some lightning bolt to strike me. As I continued to justify my behavior, I started to get depressed and miserable. I hated that Pete attended church every Sunday, and in turn I didn’t like myself very much.
Fortunately, I found that my way was very wrong and openly decided to ask God for help. Saul hits the same snag. Eventually, because of his choice to justify his decision against God’s will, he becomes depressed and miserable. I am not sure that Saul completely heals from his complete denial of God’s will. I think he allowed evil to infiltrate his soul and never escaped his own self-indulgent plan.
I don’t think many of us want to be stuck in self-indulgence. It is a lonely, depressing place when we lead our lives selfishly. Christ centered lives takes discipline and obedience, but produce satisfaction. During Lent, we are asked to become aware of Christ in our life, to really understand and become one with His suffering. How have you done this? How can you become less self-indulgent and more Christ focused?