2 Chronicles 18:4
Inquire first for the word of the Lord.
These are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit.
W.C. Fields was famously an atheist. He owned several theology books, and near the time of his death was reportedly caught reading his Bible. When asked about why he was reading the Bible, he said, “Looking for loopholes.” The price evil pays to good is the effort to justify itself, or find a way to call itself good.
In the story recorded in 2 Chronicles 18, kings Ahab and Jehoshaphat are conspiring to go to war against Ramoth-gilead. Before they fully agree to go, Jehoshaphat requests that Ahab, “Inquire first for the word of the Lord.” Sadly, however, there were false prophets urging them to go to war. But Micaiah refused to agree with them. He revealed the true word of God, saying that they would be defeated if they went to war against Ramoth-gilead. He was ignored, however, and Ahab was ultimately killed in the battle.
If we are willing to listen to the true word of God – neither looking for loopholes, nor seeking justification for the things we want to do – we will not be mislead. In fact, we will bear God-honoring fruit. Such is our calling as God’s people: not to seek out favorite words that allow us to do as we please, but to honor God with our lives by bearing fruits of righteousness, grace, peace, and love. If we truly do inquire first for the word of the Lord, hear God’s true word, and let that word shape our hearts and lives we will bear fruit that honors him. That is far better than looking for loopholes or finding pet passages for self-serving beliefs.