Avoiding the yes-men

1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18

King Ahab could not hide from the Lord’s plan for the end of his life.  His idolatrous “prophets” told him to go to war against Ramoth Gilead.  Jehoshophat, King of Judah, visited him, and Ahab asked if Judah would join forces with him to fight Ramoth Gildead.

Jehoshophat’s advice was to seek advice from a prophet of the LORD.  There was only one such prophet in Ahab’s lands, and Ahab did not make it a practice to listen to him.  Why would he listen to his idol-loving prophets and abandon the words from the LORD?

7 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Did you catch that?  Ahab said that he hated Micaiah….a prophet of the LORD.  Ahab strikes me as a person who is very short-sighted and not very introspective.  He was actively disobeying God’s laws…so why would he expect to hear anything good from the one who was a prophet of God?

Like all of us, Ahab fell prey to that human desire to listen only to those who agree with our stance on things.  He didn’t want to hear another viewpoint.  He wanted to be surrounded with yes-men.

My daughter and I started reading an excellent book together today called The Fallacy Detective.  The chapter about viewpoints was a wake-up call to me.  I tend to shun or overlook those who don’t agree with me on an issue.  I get emotional and feel as if I am being personally attacked.  Why?  Because I never stopped to think about (or was formally taught about) the value in listening to other people’s viewpoints in formulating an opinion.

A person who has an inquiring mind would read different newspapers in order to gain a better understanding of the issues as a whole.  It is important to understand where others are coming from when they express their opinions.  The Lord did give us 2 ears but only 1 mouth for a reason!

I know people who watch only one television news station because of its particular conservative or liberal leanings and who avoid the “other” news station because of its opposite conservative or liberal leanings.  If I do watch the news, I tend to switch on the one whose commentators usually reflect my own opinions.  But is this really the wise course?  How is that any different than King Ahab’s practice of listening only to those prophets who told him what he wanted to hear?

I have some deep praying and thinking to do about the way I gather information and formulate my opinions.  I’m not saying that I want to start reading books debunking the existence of God right away.  But maybe, with the Lord’s prompting, reading such books might help me reach out and share the gospel with those who do not believe.

My greatest example in evangelism is Jesus.  Did he surround himself with those who only had his viewpoint?  Nobody had his viewpoint!  He turned the so-called religious Pharisees upside down with his interpretation of the Law and with his knowledge of the Father and his wisdom.  He reached out and touched those who were possessed by demons.  He rubbed elbows with the poor and with those who were deemed untouchable, with thieves, with tax collectors.

I imagine if Jesus came to earth today, he would wade into the fray among both sides of the political aisle — among those who turn a blind eye to the poor — and among those who cling to philosophies that save the trees and kill the children.

The next time I am tempted to shut out and refuse to listen to those whose ideas clash with my own, I will remember King Ahab, who listened to his “yes-men.”

What happened to King Ahab?  Those “yes-men” led him straight to his death on the battlefield…as prophesied by the lone “no-man” whose advice to Ahab came from the Lord.

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