Don’t choose door number one!

IMG_19800105_213701Mark 6:21-29

“And she went in and said to her mother, ‘for what should I ask?’ and she said, ‘The head of John the Baptist.'” v. 24

When I was a kid I used to love watching game shows on television. I watched as the contestants were offered a choice. They could keep the new car they had just won or they could go for  broke and choose the mystery prize behind door number one. Too often they would choose the door only to find they had traded in the car for something lame like a goat, or a box of pop tarts. What a disappointment. But do you know we do things like that every day? We throw away all that God has for us for revenge. We choose to get revenge or live in bitterness, only to find at the end of the day we have traded in the kingdom of God for a head on a platter. We chose door number one and lost it all. That’s what happens when we live in bitterness.

Do you have a bitter spirit toward someone? Who’s face is keeping you up at night? Do you have any idea how much your bitterness is costing you…and those who love you? Holding that grudge is doing more damage to your world than you may believe. Take a look with me at what it did the Herodias, and everyone around her. Herodias was bitter at John the Baptist, a righteous man imprisoned for speaking the truth about the immorality of the affair between Herod and Herodias, the wife of his brother. Herod kept John in prison, and was afraid to kill him. Herodias wanted him dead. One evening her opportunity for revenge came. Herod, was partying with his friends in the palace. Herodias’ daughter was brought in to provide entertainment as a dancer. In a moment of drunken stupidity the king made a promise to the young dance queen. “I’ll give you anything you want, up to half my kingdom.” He said. Because his guests heard him make the promise, the old boy was stuck in a pit of obligation with no way out. Here’s where we see the price of bitterness. Herodias’ daughter goes to her mom and says, “Mom, I’ve just been given the offer of a life time! What should I ask for?” Imagine a game show host walking up to Herodias at this point; “You have just won half the kingdom of Israel. You can take it or go for the grudge behind prison door number one. You can’t have the kingdom and the grudge. Which will you choose?”  Drum roll please. She chose the door. Now think for a minute. I have two daughters and two sons. If one of them came to me and said, “Hey dad! I’ve just been offered anything I want, up to half the kingdom-country-state-whatever, what should I ask for?” I think I’d set my sights a little higher than a head on a platter. But Herodias couldn’t see beyond her own bitterness. The opportunity of a lifetime was placed before her, and she could see nothing but revenge. Her bitterness so consumed her that she couldn’t see the kingdom laid out before her and her daughter. Imagine what she could have asked for. She could have demanded half the kingdom for her daughter to rule, wealth and riches to set her daughter up for life or  at the very least, opportunities for her daughter to travel and experience life. Oh but wait. I guess that’s the problem. She wasn’t thinking about her daughter, but about herself. That’s what bitterness does. It makes you willing to rob even your children for what you want. If that weren’t bad enough, she didn’t even have the vision to see what she could have had for herself. She could have offered to help her daughter rule the kingdom, or travel the world, or spend the wealth. But the blinders of hatred stole the future. Finally, poor Herod. He had to carry out the plan. Granted, it was his fault for sure. But he was forced to sin against God for the sake of her hostility. So all that Herodias could have gained was lost as she dragged all her supposed loved ones into the pit of her fury. At the end of the day all she ended up with was a head on a platter. She threw away the car and chose door number one. A moment of satisfaction that cost her soul forever. Bitterness can give you such tunnel vision that you will throw away the kingdom, just to have someone’s head on a platter. Today if you are holding a grudge, however justified it may be, ask yourself if it’s worth the price you and all those who have to live with you are paying. If you hold that grudge much longer you can be sure that:

– The innocent will be punished.

– Opportunities will be lost forever.

– Others will be dragged into sin on your behalf.

– You will throw away the kingdom, where forgiveness is the rule.

And at the end of the day, you’ll have nothing to show for it, but something dead on a platter. How much better it will be if you and I learn that forgiveness may be hard, but in the long run, it’s a whole lot easier than living in bitterness. On the cross, as Jesus hung there taking abuse from the authorities of Rome and Israel, he could have come down and made them all pay. I’m glad today that he saw beyond his own pain to my need. He chose to say, “Father forgive them…” to those who deserved judgment. He could have had our heads on a platter, but he gave us the kingdom instead. May God enable us to do the same.

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