1 Samuel 23-24
When we say “yes” to Jesus being our Lord — essentially saving our lives from eternal death and aligning our desires to His — we are forever changed. At least, we’re supposed to be.
I’ll never forget the trip home from the camp where I had made that decision. I transformed from a person that couldn’t even make eye contact with others to a person confident enough to tell his testimony at the front of a bus containing 80 peers. I was so radically changed that my mom initially didn’t recognize me when I hopped in the car that evening.
But over time we grow complacent, and we start making mistakes and forgetting to turn away from old habits that resurface. We let the things that we once addressed, proclaiming, “No more,” become common anew.
Two examples blared at me in today’s reading:
The threshing floor
It’s kind of like the group project in school where you’re somehow placed alongside a bunch of slackers who refuse to do sincere work and don’t contribute to the report, leaving you to do it and leaving them to get credit nonetheless.
Except, in this case, the work is a lot harder, and it’s food, and the people getting the credit have lots of weapons.
Before it was all mechanized, grain processing was hard work. A farmer had to spend hours eliminating the excess to get to the kernels of grain. Once threshing the wheat was completed, it was ready to be crushed and made into food. The Philistine nation took it upon themselves to invade Israel and take the grain right off the threshing floor after the process was completed. Dirty.
The circumstances surrounding this event aren’t apparent, but I can tell you this: if they took better care to guard the threshing floor, the food would not have been stolen.
God has done a great work within us, but we often let down our guard and let other people or the enemy steal it away. We promptly begin a whine fest and expend further resources and time complaining about our mishaps, only contributing to the damage.
We should guard our greatest resources, our renewed hearts and minds through Jesus Christ, on a daily basis, and not just when they’re threatened. Never jeopardize your integrity.
The mercy move
We see two contrasting examples: David, a man seeking the approval of God, and Saul, a man seeking the approval of other men.
Saul feels threatened by the likes of David and looks to get rid of him, even employing armies to do his dirty work. Meanwhile, David does his best to escape the sword, but in a great stroke of fortune, gets into a position to kill Saul. As most know, David decides not to run his sword through him, and, wholly grateful for David’s merciful act, Saul changes his mind about his successor to the throne.
When we seek the approval of others, only bitterness and destruction awaits. We manipulate and coerce and plot to earn favor by any means. While we might eventually obtain approval, even by underhanded means, it is at the expense of integrity and hollowness still lingers.
Conversely, when we seek to please God through our faith in Him and obedience to what He says, we forego the burden of others’ opinions, and even learn to love our worst critics. Integrity abounds because the love of Christ is active within us.