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Inputs vs. Outcomes

Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city.......      1 Kings 21: 7, 8

 

La Mare Vineyards has become a household name in Jersey. The existence of this lovely estate in St Mary gives Jersey folk a better understanding of Queen Jezebel who lived in Samaria (part of present day Israel) around 850 BC..... And maybe to learn from her how we ourselves are motivated by Outcomes rather than Inputs?

 

Wives don’t like unhappy husbands around them. And husband Ahab (Seventh King of Israel BC 874-852) was unhappy because, adjoining his Palace was the beautiful Estate of Naboth’s Vineyards. Ahab tried to buy out Naboth but, like some Jersey men, he kept saying (and meaning) “This has been in my family for generations and I want to pass it on to my children.”

 

So, over breakfast, as it were, Jezebel speaks the words in bold above. She is focused totally on Outcomes. This Outcome she will achieve – for Ahab and for herself.

 

But what are the necessary Inputs to obtain this Outcome? Lies and forgery. She wrote letters in Ahab’s name. She affixed Ahab’s seal without his knowledge or consent. In doing this (and more) she undermined his kingship and the kingdom departed from him and his sons for ever.

 

What was in the letters addressed to the elders and leaders in Naboth’s city? An instruction to arrange a false accusation pof blasphemy against God and King Ahab against Naboth, backed up by two scurrilous witnesses, a resulting conviction, and the carrying out of the death penalty on him – by stoning. Queen Jezebel, possibly over breakfast again, suggests to Ahab that he is now able to take possession of the vineyard. And he does so – unquestioning about the Inputs that gave rise to this Outcome, but consenting to it all – for one obvious reason: the Outcome was “good”.

 

There is a parallel here that seems to be of unending relevance in all cultures and societies. Take Jersey marital breakdowns as an example. The wife wants to see a particular financial Outcome. The husband also sees a desirable financial Outcome. Add the two Outcomes together and they total much more than is available. Then the hurtful and devious conduct begins and whatever was alive in the partnership is then killed.

 

What’s to be done about this concentration upon Outcomes which brings about evil Inputs? What’s the solution?

 

Glib answers (“Reform yourself!”) will not suffice because the cause is too deep-seated. Think of the Jezebel/Ahab earlier parallel when Eve persuaded Adam to eat the forbidden fruit (Input) because of the benefits and blessings that such fruit seemed to offer (Outcomes).......

 

Jesus, in the closing week of his life on earth (the first Easter AD 33) answered the question posed to him, “Teacher, what is the meg-commandment of them all?” He said, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your life and with all your mind.’ This is the mega and primary commandment. And a second is similar to it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’”

 

If I did that all would be well. My Inputs would no longer be evil – because of love for Jesus. Better yet, my Outcomes – the Outcomes that I desire – would be of little importance, changed by my reciprocated love for the God who became man and went to the cross for me.

 

Richard Syvret confesses that he cannot do this – cannot achieve it.

 

But another Man has done it on his behalf.....

 

And that Man also baptises with the holy spirit, with the holy life of God within. That’s what changes a person inside and helps (until the next world) to restrain evil Inputs in pursuit of self-oriented Outcomes.

 
 ‘Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.' (T S Eliot OM, Playwright and Poet, 1888-1965)
 
 ‘The itch to have the pre-eminence is one disease for which no natural cure has ever been found.’  (A W Tozer, American pastor, 1897-1963)
 
Richard Syvret

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