We have four children—two in college, one getting ready to graduate high school and another finishing middle school. When our children were young, we had some pretty strict standards of behavior that we insisted everyone abide by.
I could go through all of the rules and standards we established, but honestly, the specific standards aren’t the point. We were fairly strict as we put up boundaries and borders for them that kept them from sin and hurt while they were gaining a solid foundation for their faith. Sometimes the lines we drew were even questioned by those who didn’t understand our heart for them.
My point that I am trying to illustrate here is a premise. It is a truth that is foundational and applicable to families and churches.
Contemporary churches and families are loosening their principles and standards because they hope to become more relevant in our modern culture. They want to relate. The last thing they want is to be considered “narrow”.
But, the truth is just the opposite—the sure way to become irrelevant and have your influence shrink to nothing is to have no standards.
A great Biblical illustration of this is the story of Jonadab. The small story of Jonadab can be found in 2 Kings 10 and Jeremiah 35. I encourage you to read the story of his family.
Jonadab lived during the time of King Jehu of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Jonadab helped Jehu purge the systemized worship of Baal from Israel and also wipe out the family of Ahab. Jehu was the one to carry out the judgment of God on Ahab.
Now, fast forward 250 years into the future to the prophet Jeremiah. During the time of the fall of Jerusalem, we are introduced to the legacy of Jonadab and his family called the Rechabites. The Lord sent Jeremiah to the Rechabites to bring them into one of the chambers of the Temple to honor them. As the Southern Kingdom was weakened by idolatry, the Rechabites followed the urging of their ancestor, Jonadab.
God uses the Rechabites as an illustration. The Israelites would not follow the laws and words of God attached to the Covenant he made through Abraham and Moses. They stepped away from the law of the Lord to follow after idols and become more like the people around them. In contrast, the Rechabites followed the words and urging of their earthly ancestor, Jonadab.
And then God says,
“Behold, I am bringing upon Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the disaster that I have pronounced against them,…but to the house of the Rechabites,…Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.“ (Jer. 35: 17-19)
The point here is not the type of standards.
Rather, I’m encouraging you to have some lines in the sand. These are standards for your church and/or family. And, don’t be afraid to have stricter standards than others around you. The Rechabites set a standard of not planting seed because Jonadab didn’t want them living in cities. He identified the cities with evil, and he wanted them to roam. This was not a standard from God. However, this does seem to be a standard that served them well.
What happens when you do not have any standards? Well, you meld in with every other group and lose all distinction. You are not special and are no longer relevant.
The Rechabites were not special because of their standards of drinking no wine, planting no seed, and living in tents. They were special because they loved the Lord and they had standards that assisted them in living out that love for the Lord. The standards could have been anything as long as they assisted in working out their love for the Lord here on earth. The standards could have even changed each generation.
Through his experience living in that culture, Jonadab established boundaries that would serve as guidelines and separate them from the idolatry corrupting Israel.
Some will read this email and think that I am advocating locking down and isolating from the culture around us. Others will develop incredibly strict standards that will become oppressive to their families. I don’t believe this is the point of the story of Jonadab.
The point of Jonadab is that he had a zeal for the Lord. It was incredibly important to him that his family stayed true to the Lord and did not sway into the idolatry inflicting so many around them. He taught these standards as guides to encourage his family in following the Lord.
Every group and family will communicate what is important to them by their standards. If you have no standards that relate to the study of the Bible or the worship of the Lord, you are telling others, especially those you lead and teach, what is important to you. That is the legacy that will be passed down.
Next Sunday, I am going to speak to this subject of standards more because I believe that there is more to be said about it. In the next email, I want to key on my mention of unconditional love to my mom’s concern and how it relates to standards.
The premise of the story of Jonadab is don’t be afraid of setting boundaries and standards for your family and churches because standards lead to legacy.