Solomon’s downfall came in his old age. He had taken many foreign wives, whom he allowed to worship other gods. He even built shrines for the sacrifices of his foreign wives. Within Solomon’s kingdom, he placed heavy taxation on the people, who became bitter. The account of Solomon’s downfall yields abundant lessons for any missionary servant of God. Let us briefly note several of them.
First, the Word of God is to be obeyed by every generation. It is always relevant and applicable. God had never revoked His command not to intermarry with the nations around about, but Solomon paid scant attention. He disobeyed, and it would be his undoing. Even today, the man or woman of God must not marry those outside the faith. One must honor the Word of God despite one’s emotions, which can often lead one astray. Second, God’s servants must keep in mind that they have feet of clay. They are not above temptation. They can fall into sin as quickly as anyone else. Once God’s servant has fallen, it is often very difficult, if not impossible, to regain the respect of those whom he would minister. Due diligence of the soul must be a top priority. It is necessary for any effective ministry.
Third, and closely allied to number two, God’s servant should not be overly confident of his spirituality. Just because he is called of God and is in the place of God’s appointment does not mean he is impervious to the wiles of the devil. Solomon at one point would write, “Pride goeth before destruction, and haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov. 16:18). It would seem he either disregarded his own advice or came to such knowledge the hard way.
Fourth, the missionary often goes to people groups in which idolatry is rampant and he must watch that he does not compromise with the idolatry in order to gain acceptance. In wanting to show oneself friendly one can sometimes take part in something that either is not edifying or involves outright compromise. It takes great discernment and wisdom to know how far to enter into the customs and culture of those to whom one goes. It is often best to take things slowly and always prayerfully.
Fifth, as the missionary sees converts to the gospel and seeks to establish a Christian church, he must guard against syncretism. Unless those converted to Christ have no background in idolatry or false religion, they will often bring with them certain practices from their former worship. The missionary must be watchful so that unchristian practices and ideas do not gain a foothold in the church of God. Once allowed, they soon become tradition; and tradition is often difficult to uproot.
Finally, the missionary must keep in mind that he stands to be disciplined and judged by the Lord Himself. He is not above God’s law. As Scripture says, “Judgment must begin at the house of God” (I Pet. 4:17).
No person is indispensable in the Lord’s work. Some have achieved many great things for God. Some may have pastored large churches, seen many come to the Lord, written helpful books, spoken to large crowds, or been a mentor to many; yet, if need be, God will chasten them with appropriate judgment. The servant of God must always watch his own soul and his walk before the Lord and before men. As Paul wrote to Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Tim. 4:16).