Enabling the Destruction
When he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. 2 Chronicles 33:12
Change, for me, has usually required significant discomfort. When I pursue a destructive path that brings me pleasure, I am unlikely to turn around, until I encounter the pain of that path. I shudder to think where I would be today if I had not encountered miserable consequences from my addiction.
Most of us have experienced this. We don’t drive the speed limit until we see the police car. We don’t work at eating healthy until we discover our elevated cholesterol or refection in the mirror. We often don’t turn to right until we encounter the discomfort of doing wrong.
We know pain is often required for change, but still, we try to shield those we love from that pain. It’s easy to recognize enabling when other parents repeatedly bail their children out of the consequences they desperately need. When it’s our forgetful kids who leave an important school project at home though, we run to the rescue. Because we love, we think we should always protect.
Today’s passage tells of how King Manasseh required painful consequences. Manasseh wandered from God, worshipping foreign idols and led his people to do likewise. For this, God allowed the Assyrians to defeat Judah and take Manasseh captive. Only in his distress, did he repent. Manasseh never would have turned to God had he not encountered the consequences of his idolatry.
Our job is usually not to play the part of the Assyrians, inflicting pain on our loved ones, but neither are we to continually bail them out of consequences. When we rescue, we inadvertently enable toxic behavior. We may think this is love, but enabling sin makes us as guilty as the perpetrator.
Allowing consequences may not save everyone. Others may continue on in their destruction despite the pain. We are not responsible for other’s actions or their consequences. We are only responsible to do what is right before God, which sometimes means allowing the misery.