This time of year, many people get around to making some "New Years Resolutions". No doubt, some well intended resolutions that may last for a while, but
not all resolutions get kept, and most have gone by the way saide within just a few short weeks. But I want us as we approach a New year to think about changing behavior in our life that doesn’t become a Christian lifestyle. To do that I want to look again at the story of King Herod and the Wisemen.
First, Herod said or did things to manipulate others. His behavior or actions were intended to influence others to his own advantage. He said He wanted to worship the Messiah, but his actions and words were intended to decieve others to manipulate them for information. How many people can you think of that use manipulative behavior on a regular basis? Or maybe you
use it yourself to influence others to your gain? People who enter into relationships solely to take advantage of the other person for their own gain. Ask yourself this question: Am In a relationship in which my actions try to manipulate others behavior, or they try and manipulate me?
For example a relationship that is based on manipulating others for money; sex; a divorced spouse who uses a child to manipulate their ex; or some other form of personal gain. Again, ask yourself, Does the
other person in the relationship try and control you? Or do you try and manipulate and control them?
illustraition: On the Christmas episode of "Everbody Loves Raymond", Raymond was giving his wife a new set of pots for Christmas so that she would approve his request to go on a three day golf trip. He had the inside skinny that his wife was giving him a tie, and if he could outgive her then he knew he would have the upper hand when he asked to go on the golf outing.
As Raymond, his brother Robert and their dad talked out the plan, Raymond’s father interjected "I don’t do that butter me up stuff to get what I want". Robert then asks "Then how do you get what you want". The dad responds back "I’ve learned to live without". But later in the program he secretly gives his wife new pair of ear rings, and looking around for his sons, he tells his wife "If anyone asks, you didn’t get those from me".
Manipulate behavior, like Herod’s, is not appropriate for us in Christian lifestyle, and instead of making a resolution we should change our behavior in the New year.
Second, Herod pretended to be something that He was not. Pretended that he was a seeking worshipper to get access to inside information. On the television show the "Pretender", the main charachter Jared takes on a new role each episode and pretends to be something he is not: doctor; lawyer; scientist; lawman; whatever it takes to get the information he is seeking or
help the person he is trying to help. Then, before those seeking him catch up to him, he scurries off to a new location to pretend all over again. But he has no real life; at least no life in which he is real.
In the movie "Super Christian" there is a scene at the Church in which they show various members in Sunday School and worship, but many of them are shown as having masks on; someone claiming to be a Christian, but like Jared, or Herod, they seem to be pretending; or at least pretending that everything is all
right in their life.
But as Christians we should try to let our masks fall away; our walls fall down; and become real with Christ and others. For the New year we should seek to change our behavior to be real with ourselves and those around us.
Third, Herod was dangerous and violent. When he didn’t get His way he sought to ruin others lives by killing innocent children. It happens everyday in homes that claim to be Christian homes: abuse; anger; manipulation; raised tempers; violence in some form, if albeit emotional abuse.
In my days as a criminal investigator, most violence was perpetrated in the home, by either a family member or someone close to the family. (1) "A
recent survey on marital violence reports that approximately one in every seven American couples has used some form of physical abuse during an argument within the past year." If we have 35 couples here today, at least five relationships present this morning had physical abuse within the last year. (2) In an article in "Bottom Line", they report "Children who see physical violence between their parents are six times more likely to abuse their own spouses after they marry. If those children were also hit by
their parents as teenagers, they are 12 times more likely to abuse their spouses."
Bottom line, like Herod, we need to change our behavior in the New Year. Manipulations - Pretenders - and any form of abuse or violence just should be eradicated from our lives and our lifestyles.
It wasn’t too long ago that some Brady residents were taken in by a manipulative pretender that soon married one of the town’s favorite daughters and made off with many of their savings. When this happens, people
get hurt; relationships get destroyed; and and it seems like a mountain to ovecome for those who are left behind and try and pick up the pieces. Herod
was no different. Who knows how many families were destroyed by the pretentions and violence perpetrated be Herod. But this is not what God wants for His people. Jesus came to bring peace among those whom he
favours; and we should ourselves fashion our lives after Christ, and seek to change any behavior that does not represent Him. The beaviors that we need to change may not be manipulation or violence, perhaps we need to change behaviors that gossip, or use profain language, or any list of un Christ like behaviors that we exhibit.
In other words, behavior is a "choice", or how we behave is a choice; and if a choice then we can choose to change; and if we can choose to change, then why wait, but lets go ahead and make changes to our lifestyle for the new Year.
(1) www.sermonillustraition.com, National Institute of Mental Health, in Homemade, June, 1990, "abuse"
(2) www.sermonillustraitions.com, Bottom Line, in Homemade, Nov, 1985, "abuse"