Every day we make decisions about value and sacrifice. We decide if the price of gas is worth the value of our mobility. We decide if certain clothes rise to the value of sacrificing some of our money to purchase them. We decide to give up some of our time to do what we value, whether that is time with the family or time with our favorite hobby. If we perceive that the value is high enough, then we are willing to make greater sacrifices. Now ask yourself this: What value do you place on holiness? What sacrifices would you be willing to make to live right before God? Do you value God's pleasure enough to drastically alter your life if you discovered it was out of alignment with God's nature and will? These were the questions that needed to be answered by the Jews who had returned to Israel from exile. Some of them, including their political and even religious leaders, had intermarried with people from the surrounding pagan nations. This was the very sin that led to their destruction in the first place. In Ezra 10 the Jews face this issue head-on. Would they compromise and allow the sin to continue? Would they eradicate it, even it if meant making incredible sacrifices? Those sacrifices in some cases would include divorcing wives and leaving children. Could they make the ultimate sacrifice to get their lives right before God? Notice how the people handled the situation. First, at the insistence of their leaders and with just three days notice, they all gathered in Jerusalem (v9). Standing outside under heavy rain, they were confronted with their sin (v10) as Ezra pulled no punches in declaring their guilt and calling for repentance. The people then agreed to a process to deal with the situation because "Nor is this the work of one or two days, for there are many of us who have transgressed in this matter" (v13). As you can imagine, because of this kind of sin, it would take some time to put things in order. They did, however, follow through with that process. Repentance started with a decision, continued with confession, and completed with action. It is important to note that under the New Covenant of grace, God does not call us to divorce if we are married to non-believers, even though He says we should not marry non-believers in the first place. God, however, certainly does call us to eradicate sin in our life, even if that means making great sacrifices to do so. So, let's revisit the question we started with: What value do we place on holiness? What sacrifices are we willing to make to live right before God? Ponder these as you go through your day.
Frank Banfill is an author, international speaker, and president of MaxPoint Ministries, whose purpose is to help individuals, churches and ministries reach their full potential. Please forward this blog to your family & friends. Not a subscriber? Sign up now at www.FranksBibleBlog.com. If you would like to share a comment about today's blog, you may do so at https://www.maxpoint.org/maxpoint/message_board.