I am always careful when I speak in local congregations. I want to “know” that what I am presenting is what the Spirit of God deems is needed for that moment, that people and this time. I take that path because I am completely convinced that it is the Word of God and the Spirit of God that bring Life to the Body. Experience alone will not produce Life. It can be and often is a marvelous teacher but Life is from the Spirit and the Word. I am careful because I know that sometimes what God wants to be said is not always coated with sugar and dripping with honey. Most people, I have discovered do not want to hear “Do Not”. Some even become stiff-necked and determined to do it anyway when they hear that warning. We want to hear blessing not warning, correction or even instruction. But, we need to hear God’s warning, receive His correction and instruction because it helps to mature us spiritually. In fact, I have found that the “less mature” a congregation or individual is the more they resist warning, correction, and instruction. I have found few times that a word of correction was received with someone responding, “Thank you so much for that word.”
I believe that there are several specific things God is speaking to His people about or through today. If we are going to truly discover where God wants to take us we need to hear THE WARNING. I can tell where a church or person is spiritually by the questions they ask or don’t ask. I have often gone to the biblical account of Absalom, David’s son from 2 Samuel 15. Absalom is a tragic story and reveals clearly that “potential” and “appearance” can turn into “rebellion” and utter “disaster.” Sadly, in this account, Absalom was not the only person affected by his failure spiritually and morally. He was “heir apparent” to the Throne of David. From all indications he was personable, handsome, filled with charisma and demonstrated incredible potential. Yet, deep in his heart, he allowed a “root of bitterness” and a “spirit of unforgiveness” to shipwreck his life. He fell prey to a Deceptive Spirit and developed a Spirit of Rebellion that almost destroyed the nation. I have used the saying often that “anyone who will not follow and submit to human authority, will not submit to divine authority.” The Books of Proverbs and James speak to this and addresses pride, jealousy and selfish ambition as being the root and source of confusion, discord, division, and ultimate destruction. [Proverbs 16:18; 13:10; 29:23; and James 3:16]
In Absalom, we see the development of Rebellion and there is a clear path we all need to know and take pains to avoid in our own lives and local fellowships. Consider them with me briefly:
- He Developed a Spirit of Hatred.
Hate usually springs from the root of injury or perceived injury to our ego, pride, person or the infringement upon our perceived rights. That began in Absalom in 2 Samuel 13 with the rape of Tamar, his sister by his brother Amnon. That is clearly revealed in verse 22 where we discover that Absalom developed a “deep hate” for his brother. Amnon is not defendable but hate is not the right path to resolving any issue. Proverbs issues the warning that HATE stirs up strife and keeps us in spiritual darkness and John even called it equivalent to murder. That is painful for some. [Proverbs 10:12; 15:17; 1 John 2:9; 3:15]. Hate is cancerous in its destruction. It grows and spreads and breed prejudice and blinds us to our own flaws and skews judgment. It becomes vengeful and blocks out forgiveness. As Absalom continued in his refusal to forgive he became consumed with a Spirit of Hate.
- He Developed a Spirit of Revenge.
If anyone allows hatred and refuses to forgive past wounds and hurts a Spirit of Revenge will find fertile ground in their heart and tragedy can only be the result. Let me state here that Amnon was a skunk of the worst kind and deserved punishment. But Amnon, as verse 23 reveals let this fester for two years and then finally murdered his brother out of hate and a desire for revenge. Murder is wrong regardless of the reasons or supposed justifications. When we follow the path of revenge we usurp God’s authority and develop a spirit of self-righteousness that is anything but righteous. God said, through Paul in Romans 12:19, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay says the Lord…” In verses 20-21 we discover God’s attitude toward our enemies and that pill is hard to swallow. That is something that Moses taught in Deuteronomy.
Revenge demands “my rights.” Love takes the position “I have no rights but am a bond slave of Jesus.”
- He Manifested the Spirit of Selfishness.
Proverbs 16:2 tells us that in a person’s own eyes they are righteous and just but God does not see things as we and He examines motives, not just actions. The result of Absalom’s actions caused him to be exiled for a time. After 3 years he is brought back but the King refuses to hear him for 2 full years. He had no remorse and is so filled with hate and self that all he could see was his agenda.
When a person allows hate to have its full vent they develop an intense lack of respect for authority, even God’s authority. He burned Joab’s field to get what he wanted and that fed his own misguided image of his person and power. Absalom became a danger to himself and the nation because he allowed hurt to fester to the point of hate and hate produced the desire for vengeance and that produced a Spirit of Rebellion.
I do not want to end there but will take this up a bit more in the next devotional but for now, I pray that the Lord help each of us to reject hate and run to the Cross with any hurts and wounds festering in our hearts. Help us, Lord, to forgive and be forgiven. May the Lord richly bless, guard and guide you on this day!