Thursday, March 8, 2012

Knee Jerk Sin

I was reading in 1 Samuel this morning and I was struck by some of the final words of Samuel to the people. He is really angry at them because they sought a human king instead of God as their king. He said, "Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king" (1 Samuel 12:17). He does what he threatens, but then a few lines later he says, despite his anger at them, "Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way" (1 Samuel 12:23).

Here's a guy really steamed at the people (righteously so, they have rejected God) but he doesn't have a knee jerk reaction to their sin that causes him to sin. I am reminded of David after he took care of Nabal's men and sheep in the wilderness and then Nabal mocks him and blows him off and doesn't give anything back to him (1 Samuel 25). David is angry (again, righteously so) and arms up his men and sets off to kill every male of Nabal's household, saying, "Surely in vain have I guarded all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that belonged to him, and he has returned me evil for good" (1 Samuel 25:21).

Hearing David and his men are coming, Nabal's beautiful wife Abigail meets him and stops him, imploring for his mercy and saying, ". . . my lord [David] shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord taking vengeance himself . . ." (1 Samuel 25:31). David sees that she is speaking truth and turns aside, saying to her, "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! For as surely as the Lord the God of Israel lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male" (1 Sam 25:32-34).

David was hours away from knee jerk sin—from going from being right to being wrong—from letting another person's sin pull him into sin.This, and many other instances in the Bible and in my life and the news around us make me wonder, "How many times do we, starting out right, become wrong because we react to another's sin with our own sin?"

It is so easy to start out right and to become in sin ourselves because we react to another's sin. My question for your reflection this morning is, "Are you in any way being pulled in to sin (in your thoughts, actions, lack of love, lack of prayer, the way you treat another) because, though you were right, you are now starting to be wrong in reaction to their wrong?" If you are then that person is controlling you—you are allowing them to make you wrong.

Samuel wouldn't let their sin or his anger stop him from praying for them and instructing them. David wouldn't let Nabal's arrogance and ingratitude and lack of returning David's kindness cause him to take vengeance into his own hands (interestingly, Nabal fell dead a short time later and David married the beautiful and wise Abigail!).

It is a good question to ask the Holy Spirit to help reveal in us, "Where am I in danger of sinning because, though I am right, I am starting to react wrongly to another's sin?" God bless you all, and thanks for reading and being a part of my life.   —Erick

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