1 Kings 21:14-16
“Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.” As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.”
This is a tragic commentary on the wicked abuse of leadership by Ahab and Jezebel. They used their position and power to simply take what they wanted, and they used any means possible to accomplish their selfish goals.
It is with great sadness that we must say the abuse of leadership happens with tragic frequency in human society. While physical murder might be rare, slander and character assassination are common. Many leaders in many domains use their position and power to pursue personal agendas at the expense of the very people they are responsible for leading and serving.
In our time we see the abuse of leadership in government, business, education, athletics, and the church.
The passage above tells us why leaders manipulate, deceive, and hurt others. It is because there is something they want, and they will do anything “to take possession of it.” Scripture calls this covetousness or greed. It happens when a leader abandon’s God’s standards and operates by selfish desire.
“Naboth’s vineyard” is symbolic of anything that someone covets and is tempted to pursue in unethical and manipulative ways. “Naboth’s vineyard” could be a political office for a politician, a promotion or big project for a business person, a championship for a coach. For a pastor it could be having a popular and growing church. For parents it could be having high-achieving, award-winning children.
None of these things is wrong in itself. But when something comes under the power of greed and covetousness, it distorts the heart and tempts a leader to do unethical things in order “to take possession of it.” This is the spirit of Jezebel.
We must be very careful not to fall prey to the spirit of Jezebel. We must guard our hearts against greed and covetousness. Jesus gave this warning: “Take heed and beware of all covetousness, for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Luke 12.15)
The final of the Ten Commandments states it clearly: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20.17)
There are few things more dangerous than a leader operating in the spirit of Jezebel, few things more dangerous than a leader caught in the grip of covetousness and greed. Guard your heart by regularly asking yourself three questions:
What do I want?
Why do I want it?
How will I pursue it?
Pray and ask the Lord to give you insight into your motives and strategies for leading people. Pray for a servant’s heart.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6.33)
The Lord is calling.