Have you ever caved into pressure and acted against your better judgment? You didn’t expect to actually do it or go there or get involved; but, in the heat of the moment, you gave in.  Now you have regrets and a bad conscience! Even though you didn’t deliberately set clear boundaries for yourself, you figured you’d be able to handle it and do the right thing if the situation ever arose. You thought you could find a way out of it without being embarrassed; a way to put the brakes on and go no further. But things didn’t work out the way you planned.

For Herod, little did he think he would do, later that day, what he ended up doing. Yes, he was annoyed with John the Baptist. After all, John had condemned him for living incestuously with his own sister-in-law, so he probably felt more than justified in roughing him up a bit by throwing him in jail. Possibly he wanted to kill John then and there, but the community would have protested strongly. So, the next best thing was to lock him up.

By the time Herod’s big birthday bash rolled around, his anger seemed to have subsided. Maybe, he even started to half-like John.

In Matthew 14 we pick up the story of his daughter dancing before all the birthday-party-men.

Herod to daughter: “Dear, come here. You have pleased the guys amazingly. They loved it and I loved it. You can ask for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you as a reward.”

Just a second Herod. Do you really mean ‘anything’? Are there no boundaries? Aren’t there a few things you wouldn’t give up? Is the sky really the limit? Shouldn’t you attach a few caveats to that open-ended offer to your dancing daughter? What if she asks for John’s head on a platter? Would you go there? Would you do that?

But Herod wasn’t thinking in advance. He was acting on impulse.

After receiving advice from her mother, who hated John for exposing her sin, the daughter made her little request: “I want John the Baptist’s head on a platter!”

Did Herod swallow hard as he tried to process this bizarre request? Would he honour his promise? The heat was on. He gave in and soon the bloody platter arrived.

Prompted by her mother, she said,

“Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter… And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, and his head was brought on a platter …” Matthew 14:8-11

I may not put a head on a platter but there are other things that may end up on a platter unwittingly. If I don’t establish boundaries beforehand in the presence of the Lord, I am very vulnerable.

Unless you purpose in your heart beforehand to not watch anything with obscene language or swearing or nudity or sexually suggestive material in it, it’s likely you will cave into the pressure. The purity of your thought-life will end up on the platter.

Unless a dating-couple determine in advance not to touch certain parts of the body over or under clothing, it’s highly probable they will go further than they intended to go. Sadly, they may violate each other’s sanctity and commit fornication – for which they will have to be disciplined by the local church. (1 Corinthians Chapter 5)

Unless I deliberately purpose in my heart to pour my efforts and energies into all the activities of the local church, my regular attendance at prayer meetings, Bible studies and Gospel services will likely end up on the platter.

If I, in the presence of the Lord, don’t develop convictions and determine the agenda, my three enemies (the world, the flesh and the devil) will conspire together against me and win. Things we never thought we would sacrifice or put on the platter will end up there, unless we establish convictions beforehand. Remember Daniel? He purposed in his heart beforehand that he would not be defiled by the norms of Babylon. (Daniel 1:8)

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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