Jean-Luc Lézeau, Acting Director, General Conference Stewardship

Summary: How does a child-king demonstrate integrity? He evaluates his plans and if they are not working, he has the courage to admit it and change. Read this account of Joash, the boy-leader who demonstrated his commitment to God’s business.

In His eyes

It seems fairly straight forward and simple: be faithful, be a person of integrity. Is this just another item to mark off the long list of what we must do to be a ?good? Christian, a brother or sister in ?good standing?? The problem is we may be in good standing with our brethren, but how are we viewed in the eyes of the Lord? Does He see us as people of integrity?

A young king had just been crowned and he was only seven years old! Some time after his coronation, King Joash decided to repair and restore the Temple of God (2Ch 24:1). This was an excellent initiative, especially in a time when previous kings had forgotten that they were leaders of God’s chosen people. But Joash wanted to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord, so he re-established worship in the Temple. But before doing so, he had to repair God’s House for it was in an appalling condition after years of neglect.

The king gave direct orders to the people in charge of the Temple: ?He summoned the priests and Levites and gave them instructions: ?Go to the towns of Judah and collect the required annual offerings so that we can repair the Temple of our God. Do not delay!’? (vs. 4)

With urgency, a direct order was given to those who were supposed to take care of this problem. As committed Christians we should all feel responsible for God’s business. And His business is urgent! We know that He is coming, that time is short, and if we do not finish our work, the stones will proclaim the message. Unfortunately we are often like the Levites for ?the Levites did not act right away? (v.4b).

I’d rather not

The delay can be explained quite rationally. Everyone knows that when a new ?boss? steps in, he often wants to change the way things have been done before. The priests and Levites had made their own rules and set their own pace of doing things during a time when nobody cared much about what was going on in the Temple. Changing habits is not an easy thing. Before, they did not have much to do, and suddenly they were to go to the cities to collect offerings that people were not ready to give. They would probably have to do some ?arm twisting? to get these offerings.

This was bad news and would not be fun at all! We can understand why they did not run to carry out their commission. On top of all of this, it was a child who was ordering them to do something! He was not yet twelve—the age which has been considered to be the age of reason. Let’s be candid. Don’t we do the same thing when we have to do something we don’t like? Drag our feet; move at our own pace? Are we people of integrity when we do this?

Courage to change

It took Joash some years before he realized that his order had not been executed. ?But by the twenty-third year of King Joash’s reign, the priests still had not repaired the Temple? (2K 12:6). We don’t know the reason it took him so long to see if his orders had been carried out. But when Joash realized that his plan had not worked, he called the people in charge, reprimanded them, appointed others to oversee the rebuilding, and established a new way to collect the money.

When a method does not work, how long do we take to notice that we have no results? Are we ready to change our plans, to change our method? Or are we so attached to what we have been doing for so long that we are afraid to take risks? I fear we may be more ready to change a person who is telling us ?it doesn’t work,? than to change our method. Or when someone has failed, what do we do with him or her? Transfer him to another position, give him another chance, or take action like Joash?

God’s kind of honesty

Some take their responsibility quite seriously, and the result is that several people are in prison today for embezzling thousands of dollars of church money—sacred money that belonged to God. Some people waver in their daily temptations. Are we faithful according to circumstances or needs? Are we kept honest because of the good work of the auditor or because we are people of integrity?

What is amazing in Joash’s story is that ?when all the repairs were finished, they brought the remaining money to the king?. No accounting was required from the construction supervisors, because they were honest and faithful workers? (2Ch 24:14; 2K 12:15). God saw that these were people of integrity; they could be trusted!