“And [Amaziah] did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.” (2 Chronicles 25:2)
There were quite a few kings of the kingdom of Judah—nineteen, to be exact, and twenty if you count the only ruling queen. In 1 and 2 Chronicles, each king receives a brief description of his reign, followed by a single sentence. This sentence tells us how well the king followed God during his reign. Sadly, very few of them are remembered as serving God, and even fewer as doing “all that David his father had done.” Many of them allowed idolatry in Judah, and one king was more evil than the nations the Israelites had displaced when they conquered the land. What’s interesting, though, is that the majority of the kings followed God to some degree. The problem came when they did not follow Him completely.
One such king was Amaziah. He started his reign well, listening to God and bringing Him glory. But, as many of his predecessors had done, he allowed idolatry to continue. More than that, he even introduced new gods to his people. Having defeated an enemy nation, he brought back their idols and instituted worship of them. Because of this, God gave him into the power of the kingdom of Israel, and he was captured by them. Though he did what was right early on, his heart was not wholly true to God, and so he went astray.
In our own lives, it is absolutely essential that we follow God with a whole heart. To say that this is easy would be a tremendous lie; following God wholeheartedly is probably one of the hardest things we can do. There are so many other things that vie for God’s position on the throne of our hearts, and we often chase after them instead of Him. But the very first commandment in the Ten Commandments states, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Following something other than God is putting another god before Him.
For me, there are quite a few things that would love to have my allegiance—pride, fear, and my own wishes, to name a few. Very often, I find myself putting those before God. But that is not what any of us are supposed to do. We all are ordered to place God first, to follow Him first, to recognize, worship, and obey Him as King. People like Amaziah followed God with a half heart, and it always landed them in trouble. In Revelation, God warns us that He hates it when we’re lukewarm in our obedience. God must be first; nothing else in our lives can compete with Him. A half-hearted allegiance is no allegiance at all.