Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 21 May 18:
1. 2 Samuel 13:3 — “But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. And Jonadab was a very crafty man.” Real friends will encourage you to obey God, not to find creative ways to sin.
2. 2 Samuel 13:15 – “Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, ‘Get up! Go!’” Lust is not love, though we often use the word ‘love’ to describe lust. Even our Bible translation uses the word ‘love’ for ‘ahab’ which in Hebrew can mean a good or bad affection. Love is selfless. Lust is selfish. Love grows more love. Lust always ends in hate. Often, people will pretend to love in order to satisfy their lust. But when their lust is satisfied, hate is revealed.
3. 2 Samuel 13:21 — “When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry.” He was angry, but he didn’t do anything. Amnon raped his sister Tamar, and David did nothing – wow! Amnon’s crime deserved death; David does not appear to even address the matter but rather seems to act as if it never happened. Could this be because David himself was guilty of sexual sin that was deserving of death? Was he concerned about the risk of Amnon’s crime further exposing his hypocrisy? Or was he merely attempting to do damage control, wrongfully protecting his son Amnon from the consequences of his crime? Whatever the reason, David is perverting justice, failing to protect the victims of this sin, and setting the stage for increased pain and destruction. In his guilt and self-centeredness, David has failed to address the reality of sin within his family, and it has and will cost them dearly. Too often, for many reasons, we fail to address the sins of those we care about. Usually this decision to ignore sin motivated by pain avoidance, the desire to avoid the consequences of the confrontation. We cannot lovingly ignore the sin of a brother or sister, being a party to their destruction. Of course the Bible is VERY clear that confronting sin must be done “in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1) “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20) “And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-24)
– Galatians 6:1 — Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
– 2 Thessalonians 3:15 — Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
– 2 Timothy 4:2 — Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
– 1 Timothy 5:20 — As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17 — All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
– Titus 1:9 — He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
– 2 Thessalonians 3:6 — Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:14 — And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
– Colossians 3:16 — Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
4. 2 Samuel 13:30 — “While they were on the way, news came to David, ‘Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons, and not one of them is left.’” Things are not usually as good or as bad as first reported. Stories are often inflated due to emotional excitement or minimized to avoid accountability. Don’t be quick to judge a situation until the dust settles.
5. 2 Samuel 14:13 – “And the woman said, ‘Why then have you planned such a thing against the people of God? For in giving this decision the king convicts himself, inasmuch as the king does not bring his banished one home again.’” God’s ways combine justice and mercy, holding people accountable while allowing for reconciliation. The world demands justice without mercy or no justice at all. (2 Samuel 14:10)
6. 2 Samuel 14:14 — “But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.” The Father provided His Son, Jesus that we would not remain as outcasts.
7. 2 Samuel 14:24 — “Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” Both David and Absalom desired reconciliation, but David could bring himself to offer total forgiveness. Partial forgiveness is not forgiveness and does not fulfill our mission of reconciliation.
8. 2 Samuel 14:27 – “There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a beautiful woman.” Absalom never got over what happened to his sister, and it affected his character development, his decision-making and the course of his life. It is a terrible thing to be driven by anger, bitterness, and by a quest for revenge.
9. 2 Samuel 14:32 — “Now therefore let me go into the presence of the king, and if there is guilt in me, let him put me to death.” Again, Absalom wanted to settle things with his father. Never be the barrier to reconciliation.
10. Proverbs 21:2 — “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.” God defines right and wrong not people.
11. Proverbs 21:13, 21 — Pursue love today by seeing and meeting the needs of others around you. Love requires genuine sacrifice. Sacrifice your time, energy, and resources today for those who need some love today. Give from the abundance you have been given through Jesus.
12. Proverbs 21:27 — “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent.” God examines the motives behind what you do. You can do the right things for the wrong reasons and receive God’s disfavor.
13. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 – God sees the true motive behind the deed. All of our charity, all of our good deeds, all of our accomplishments are just vanities if they are done from a prideful “aren’t I good” heart. You can make great sacrifices for all the wrong reasons and receive no credit from God. It is only genuine if it comes from a selfless heart of love. “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
14. 1 Corinthians 13:2 — “If I… have not love, I am nothing.” Love is the measure of the person, nothing else.
15. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 — Our love is revealed by how we treat others in relationships, not by how well we accomplish tasks and projects or what deeds we do on behalf of a concept of love or religion.
16. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 — “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” This is a popular verse at weddings, but this one of those verses we should probably read to ourselves every morning and then use as a nightly debrief to ourselves at the end of every day to assess how we did. To be a person who truly displays these attributes is far more impressive, miraculous, and powerful than speaking in tongues, prophesying, preaching, teaching, or anything else. Some Christians boast about their spiritual gifts or simply natural gifts, but few can boast of this sort of love. Love like this is genuine proof of a close relationship with Jesus.
– Comments from Henry T. Blackaby — Love has no limits. Love never says, “You’ve gone too far. I can’t love you now.” “All things” means everything is included. Christlike love leaves no doubt in the mind of another that you will continue to love steadfastly. Do those close to you know that they can fail and do foolish things, yet you will not falter in your love for them? Are others assured that, even when they hurt you, you still love them, holding nothing against them? Love assumes the best about others. If someone inadvertently offends you, you choose to believe the offense was unintentional. If someone seeks to harm you, you “bear all things,” forgiving unconditionally. If a positive light can be shed on a difficult encounter, you grasp it. If someone continually provokes you, you “endure all things.” You never lose hope in the ones you love. You practice the same unconditional love toward others that Christ gives to you. Paul said that he was nothing if he had the faith to move mountains, the tongue of an angel, and the gift of prophecy to understand all mysteries, yet did not have God’s love. It is unacceptable to say, “Well, I just can’t love people that way!” When God loves people through you, this is the only kind of love He has! Read 1 Corinthians 13 with gratitude that God has already expressed this complete and selfless love to you. Pray and ask Him to express it through you now, to others.
17. 1 Corinthians 13:11 — “When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” It is time to grow up in love. God calls us to have a childlike faith, not a childish faith. When an adult acts immaturely, we might tell him to stop acting like a child. Likewise, those who should be spiritually mature might need to be reminded what is expected of them.
18. 1 Corinthians 13:13 — “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” The requirements of knowledge change over time, but the demands of love have never changed. Smart people come and go, but a truly unconditionally loving person is a very rare treasure.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 21 May: Make 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 love your goal today. Display these verses somewhere prominently; memorize them; recite them to yourself throughout the day; practice them; pray about them; compare your thoughts, words, and deeds to them; and evaluate your behavior.