Saturday, May 26, 2007

Choose Your Battles

I am in the midst of reading about King David from 2 Samuel. I am struck by his gentle spirit on one hand, but his voracious combativeness on the other.

We see David mercilessly slaughter his foes. We even read some of his sentiments in the Psalms. But then we see him remaining passive and even taking flight in other circumstances instead of staying to fight. What makes the difference?

David seems to have held it as a matter of principle that he would not engage in attacking the Lord's Anointed. Thus, we find him utterly refusing to attack Saul, or his family. We even find him exacting vengeance on those who killed Saul. Even though Saul was plainly in the wrong, David refused to fight back. Instead he resigned himself to trust in God to work it all out.

The second instance in which we see David refraining from battle is when his son, Absalom attempted a coup. He most likely could have easily routed this upstart army. But he could not bring himself to fight against his own son, albeit that he and Absalom were fairly estranged anyway. Again, he trusts God to do what is right, even if that means losing his own life.

What do we learn from this? We face times of conflict. We often wonder if the path the Lord would have us take is one of combat or forbearance. How are we to know? Taking a page from David, we can see that there are times when we are called to fight. We are to fight couragously and persistently. We are to fight in faith, trusting in God for victory. Such times are when we are fighting to defeat those foes which God has called us to overcome. Fleshed out for us in our modern times that will mean winning against our own lusts and sins. It will mean standing up for truth, justice, morality, and life. In these instances we are called to do battle and never back down.

But there are other times when we face more personal battles. We see those in leadership and authority who are misusing their positions. David's example shows us that we are not to come against them directly. Rather, we are to pray and leave the outcome to God. He will take care of it. We just need to trust Him.

Secondly, there will arise conflicts with our brothers. These may be family, friends, other Christians, or even those in the world. They may attack us pesonally in a variety of ways. For the sake of love, both of God, and our brothers themselves, we learn from David's example that we run from these battles while we again commit ourselves to prayer and faith. God will see to it that it works out.

The great difficulty for us here is that we are not usually as resigned to God as David was. We want things to work out our way. David was content to die if that was what pleased God. It seems to me we must come to this same place. It is the place we are constantly called to. It is the place of the cross.

If you find yourself in the midst of battle today, ask yourself which kind of battle this is. Are you fighting for the truth of the Gospel? Justice for the poor? Morality? To preserve life? Then fight with all your might. Be strong and courageous in the power of the Lord. But if it is a personal attack from authorities or acquaintances, abstain. Run! The Lord will be with you. He will take care of it. Trust Him and you will see the glorious victory of God- just like David did.


Blogger Joni said...

These are great thoughts.

It's hard sometimes to know the difference between our own anger and righteous indignation. I guess the answer is to be more submitted to God and His direction; to be in tune with His Spirit on a daily basis. It sure isn't easy, though.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

While it is true that we always need to be submitted to God, the point here is a general application- if we are fighting a completely selfless battle for morality, truth, etc. then we should fight. But if it is a personal attack on us, it is usually the case that we should abstain and trust God. With this principle in mind, it makes it easier to discern whether what we feel is our own anger or, as you say, righteous indignation. However, even though we know what to do, it is still difficult to actually do it.

11:11 AM  

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