The young King Joash ’did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.’ But as soon as the old man was in his grave all was changed, and he did instead that which was evil.
And Joash has many followers, those who do well so long as they are under good and holy influence, and who do so badly when that influence is removed.
The young man, with the anxious, careful mother, who does so well as long as she lives, and who wanders from the right path as soon as she is taken from him; the young woman, who, whilst living under her parents’ roof, sheltered and guarded by wise restrictions from all that would harm her, seems not far from the Kingdom of God, but, who, leaving home and becoming her own mistress, drifts into frivolity and carelessness; the man or woman who, when removed from good and holy influence, falls away from God and goes backwards; all these are followers of Joash, all these cause pain and distress to those who watch over their souls.
What is the reason of this sad change? Why is it that some only stand firm so long as they are under the care and influence of others? The Master has answered the question. He tells us the reason.
‘These have no root.’
Last Christmas we had in our house a large green fir-tree. It reached from the floor to the ceiling, and spread its branches abroad in all directions. It stood well and firmly; it had all the appearance of growing; it held its head erect, and seemed as likely to stand as any of the trees outside in the garden.
But our tree only stood for a time. So long as the heavy weights and props which held it up remained, so long as the strings, which were tightly tied to nails in the wall, were uncut; just so long the tree remained upright and unmoved. But the very instant that the props and supports were taken away our tree came down with a crash.
What was the reason of its downfall? Why did the trees in the garden stand unsupported, and yet this tree fell so soon as its props were removed?
The answer is clear and simple. The trees in the garden had each of them a root, our Christmas tree had no root. Having no root, it was impossible for it to stand alone.
There is, alas, plenty of no-root religion now-a-days. We see around us too many whose godliness is dependent on their surroundings and their circumstances. They mean well, they try to do right, but there it ends. They have no root; the heart is unchanged, unconverted, unrenewed. Their religion is merely a surface religion.
So they for a time believe, for a time do well, for a time appear to be true Christians, but in time of temptation they fall away. Their ‘goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.’
If we would stand firm, we must see to it that our religion goes deep enough. I myself must be made new if I am to grow in grace; my heart must be Christ’s if I am to stand firm in the faith.