He had everything a man could want. Saul, son of Kish, was crowned by the prophet Samuel as the first king of Israel. Physically, he stood a head taller than his countrymen—they literally looked up to him. Initially, he seemed humble—recognizing that he had no right to be king–coming from the smallest tribe in his nation. But along came a sheep herder who pulverized Goliath the giant with a slingshot, led Saul’s troops to repeated victories against the Philistines and captured the heart of a nation in song and in fame. Saul saw that God favored David and his heart turned from admiration for Judah’s noble warrior to jealousy.
1 Samuel 18:28,29—Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved him, and he became even more afraid of David. As a result, Saul was David’s enemy from then on.
So what does this old story have to do with us? Well, how many times have you run into a Christian leader who is adversarial towards another Christian leader? How many times have you resented another follower of Christ or felt slighted because someone else received more recognition? I can think of a fellow pastor who I was critical of for years because of his popularity and yet from my perspective shallowness. Instead of praying for him I criticized him among those who shared my opinion. Perhaps despite our sophistication we really aren’t all that different than those ancient Hebrews.
What makes an enemy? There actually is a process to this answer. With Saul it started when he stopped obeying God because it was more important to be a people pleaser (1 Sa. 13:11;15:24). It expanded when his pride exceeded caring for his subordinates (14:26). It culminated with envy and fury when David exceeded his own popularity (18:8,9).
Whenever we selectively neglect God’s instruction to curry favor with people, inflate our own importance, and resent instead of cheer the accomplishments of others, look for enemies to start appearing. Dan Allender wrote inLeading With A Limp,“Envy arises because we are not grateful for how God has written our world or for how he has blessed us. Envy comes from a sense of inadequacy and emptiness rooted in our woundedness.” Marcus Aurelius taught, “How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”
We already have enough enemies that oppose us simply for our identification with Jesus. We dare not create opponents within the faith! This does not glorify God, honor His kingdom or set us up for success. Take the high road. Rejoice when those around you do well. Don’t be threatened by the “greater” success of others. God made us for His purpose and it is both grand and glorious when we adhere to His will and keep our narrow eyes fixed on Him!
We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.—Charles Swindoll
©2015 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)