Fighting the Wrong Battles

Text: 2 Chronicles 35:20-25

“Nevertheless, Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo.” (2 Chronicles 35:22)

Have you ever found yourself fighting the wrong battles in life? For one ancient king and heroic reformer, engaging in the wrong conflict toppled a life of noble achievement.

In 2 Chronicles 34 and 35, we meet a young and powerful leader—the teenager who sparked a national revival. Josiah had become king of Judah at the raw age of eight after the assassination of his father. He is described as a boy who began to seek God wholeheartedly in his teens. By the time he was 20-years old, Josiah was purging Judah of its evil practices and reducing her idols to dust and powder. This was no halfhearted devotion to God; Josiah was all in!

King Josiah ordered the use of tax money to renovate the temple of God. During this process of repairing the house of worship, the high priest discovered a scroll described as “the book of the Law.” When the young king heard the words of these sacred Scriptures, and was convicted by how far his people had wandered from the teachings of God’s Word, he tore his clothes and called for a time of national repentance.

The Holy Law was read to the people of the land, and a covenant renewed between the people and the LORD. Many reforms followed. The temple was cleansed from all objects of pagan worship, idolatrous high places were demolished, and the observance of the Passover was reinstituted. Though God’s wrath would eventually come upon Judah for the sins of other godless kings, the judgment was delayed because of Josiah’s godly leadership. His legacy is noted as one who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.”

Josiah shows us the influence a person can have on the world even at a very young age. But his story is also a cautionary tale of how a lifetime of godliness can be scathed by choosing to fight the wrong battles. Josiah’s life came to a tragic end by one ill-advised campaign and reckless decision. As he went out in haste to meet King Neco of Egypt, Josiah found himself picking the wrong fight. Neco told Josiah that he wasn’t interested in war with him, and to “Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” Yet Josiah persisted and was fatally wounded in the battle at Megiddo.

Josiah’s life came to an end while fighting the wrong battle.

How many marriages have been destroyed for fighting the wrong battles? How many relationships have been wounded, families broken, or friendships severed due to trivial conflicts? How many churches have split due to fighting one another as opposed to taking on the real enemy? What would politics look like if elected officials spent more time fighting for campaigns that rightly served the people rather than partisan agendas or the mere quest for power? What might your life look like if you became less distracted by unnecessary battles and focused more on fighting the “good fight” to which God has called you?

It’s very important to choose our battles wisely. When we don’t, we can often find ourselves in the very throes of fighting against God himself, even while convincing ourselves that we are serving His agenda. We don’t want to find ourselves in this dangerous trench. It doesn’t end well. It is reckless and tragic.

As you spend time abiding in God’s Word this week, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you which of life’s battles are necessary and important to fight, and which ones are better to walk away from. Which ones honor God? Which ones serve self?


Heavenly Father, help us to seek your counsel consistently, that we would find ourselves less encumbered by trivial tussles, and more focused on missions that matter. Grant us the prudence to choose wisely, and the fortitude to fight the right battles with gracious tenacity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

twitter-64If we don’t choose our battles wisely, we may find ourselves fighting against God, while convinced we are serving His agenda. Tweet this

Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. When have you found yourself fighting the wrong battle? How did that end?
  2. Why do you suppose Josiah persisted in such a reckless conflict with Neco?
  3. What are some of the reasons you have been enticed into fighting the wrong battles?
  4. In what ways can Christians fighting the wrong battles make it difficult for unbelievers to listen to our message, or find it trivial?
  5. Which battles in your life are necessary? Which ones need to be avoided?


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