What’s the most expensive mistake you’ve ever made?
If I had the time, I could tell you about a $12,000 mistake that I made several years ago. It was the result of misplaced trust, and although it seemed like a good idea at the time, it was $12,000 that I will probably never see again.
Maybe your “expensive mistake” was in the form of a vehicle, a home, or a piece of equipment that caused more trouble than it was worth. Perhaps you poured money into a particular cause, a business, or even a person who proved to be a poor investment.
Whatever your mistake might be, we can all probably agree that it is often tempting to do whatever it takes to get that money back, isn’t it? We sometimes want to “double down” and hope – against all logic, truth, and common sense – that we can do something to recoup our losses.
The truth is, sometimes we can’t. Sometimes we just have to cut our losses and move on.
In 2 Chronicles 25, we meet a king named Amaziah, who ruled over Judah. In general, this king “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart” (25:2). Let’s take a look at a couple of his “expensive mistakes.”
EXPENSIVE MISTAKE #1 – HIRING THE WRONG PEOPLE
As king Amaziah prepared for battle against his enemies, he mustered 300,000 “choice men, fit for war, able to handle spear and shield,” (25:5) but he still felt like he needed more; so he hired another 100,000 “mighty men of valor from Israel for 100 talents of silver” (25:6). Remember, the kingdom of Israel is divided at this point, so this is an unorthodox (and risky) move for king Amaziah.
Although it is difficult to determine the exact value of this sum of money, one writer suggests that this would have been 7,500 pounds of silver, having a modern-day value of $600,000. To put this into perspective, however, we are told that Jeremiah bought a field for 17 shekels of silver (Jer. 32:9); an amount which has a modern value of only $34.00. In other words, 100 talents of silver was a significant (if not entirely determinable) amount of money!
So, when a man of God comes to king Amaziah and says, “O king, do not let the army of Israel [the 100,000 men that he had hired] go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel” (25:7), the king naturally has only one question: “But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?” (25:9)
This is a reasonable question, isn’t it? This is not the same as coming home without a few of your groceries or accidentally signing up for Amazon Prime. This was a LOT of money, and king Amaziah is concerned about it.
The man of God then tells him, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this” (25:9). King Amaziah decides to listen to the Lord, and he discharges this army of mercenaries, telling them to “go back home.”
In short, he cuts his losses.
Because of Amaziah’s decision to cut his losses and listen to God, the Lord led his army to a great victory over their enemies (25:11-12).
EXPENSIVE MISTAKE #2 – WORSHIPING THE WRONG GODS
The Bible then tells us, “After Amaziah came from striking down the Edomites, he brought the gods of the men of Seir and set them up as his gods and worshiped them, making offerings to them” (25:14).
What?? What happened to Amaziah that caused him to so suddenly turn his back on a God who had just proven Himself to be faithful and trustworthy? I’m not sure that we can know the answer to this question, but here is what we do know: God is angry with Amaziah about this decision, and he sends another prophet to talk with him about it (25:15).
This time, however, instead of cutting his losses and trusting God, Amaziah “doubles down.” When the prophet says, “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand,” Amaziah literally says, “Stop!” He does not want to hear the truth, and he basically threatens to kill the prophet if he continues to speak (25:16). The prophet gets the last word, telling Amaziah, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel” (25:16).
This second mistake would prove to be much more “expensive” for Amaziah, costing him more than he could ever imagine. As a result of this mistake, Amaziah was defeated in battle, humiliated by his enemies, and conspired against – and finally assassinated – by his own people (25:17-28).
We often get ourselves into similar situations with God, don’t we? We sometimes “spend” our lives on things that are unpleasing to God (or perhaps even downright sinful); and instead of “cutting our losses” in the face of God’s Word, we “double down” and say to God, “I refuse to give this up for You.”
Interestingly enough, some of us show striking similarities to king Amaziah in the sense that we tend to make conflicting and inconsistent decisions regarding God, depending on our “mood,” the messenger, or our current level of pride.
Is it time for you to “cut your losses?” Has God been trying to get your attention about a certain relationship, a habit, or a “pet sin” that has taken over your life? If so, don’t hesitate to humble yourself and do what He wants you to do!
Eternity is a long time, and there is no “loss” greater than that of our soul!