“He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.” — 2 Chronicles 12:14
Have you ever pondered what people will say when you die? We often assume our eulogy will paint a picture of the best days we lived on earth. We tend to believe that people will remember us for all the good deeds we accomplished. However, such was not the case for King Rehoboam, son of King Solomon. At the end of his life, we find in 1 Chronicles an editorial comment by the author of this historical account, his take on the life of Rehoboam: “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.”
Here’s what I believe we can learn from this description:
When the Bible says, “he did evil,” it should suffice to conclude that this person, well, committed evil, and that this is clearly a bad thing. We can safely conclude that we should ensure we don’t end up like him, and at the same time, avoid doing the things that led him into this debacle.
However, the Bible goes beyond this, offering a description of the single most important thing and characteristic of his life that led Rehoboam to obtain the tag of “evil“… the Bible says, “he did evil, because…” here is the reason why:
“… he did not set his heart on seeking the Lord.”
What your heart seeks or loves is usually what you worship, and as a result, it also defines who you really are. If your heart seeks anything in a higher capacity than it does God, inevitably, it will lead to evilness since it’s only in God that we find our standard of goodness. St. Augustine said,
“For when we ask whether somebody is a good person, we are not asking what he believes or hopes for, but what he loves.”
So at the end of the road, the question that matters is, what is your heart seeking the most, what do you love the most? Notice the scripture says, “he did not set his heart…” It’s one thing to believe what you think you love or seek; it’s another thing to realize what it really is that your heart loves and seeks. Sin and evilness are expressions of our loves outside the order of the love structured in God, who is the very definition of good and love.
There are two things that we must be sure to pay attention to if we do not want to fall prey to evilness in our lives:
First, you must “set your heart,” Setting your heart is a lifestyle choice. It is possible to “seek the Lord” without having the “heart” set to seek the Lord. Setting our hearts means ensuring that our whole strength, mind, and heart are set to constantly and consistently seek the ways of the Lord.
We can do things that feel like we are “seeking God,” but if our hearts are not “set” on the Lord, then the things that we do are religious and shallow. For instance, we can attend church without wanting church to tend to us. We can read the Bible, and at the same time not want the Bible to read us, etc. And it sure can feel as though we are seeking and serving God, but if our hearts are not constantly and consistently positioned toward him, without exercising our hearts to constantly desire his will, without training our lives to the spiritual disciplines so that we can understand the importance of being one with God, then our worship and service to God can be shallow, and eventually lead to evilness.
Second, you must “seek the Lord.” This speaks to the idea that we must want to do his will. Seeking the Lord for what? One may ask. For his will. Jesus said, “Let your will be done.” When we seek the Lord for his will, it gives us the freedom to first, surrender our wills, and second, to give him authority over our lives. And when we do this, we set our hearts to trust him fully.