Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Seeking God’s Heart – Playing Games (Part 2)

One of the more reviled figures in American history was a hero before he became a goat. As a captain during the Revolutionary war, this man twice disobeyed critical orders from his superiors, but in the latter situation, he helped the cause of the rebels by leading others in a critical battle at Saratoga in New York. Despite a severely injured left leg, this captain helped turn back the British who would eventually surrender to the American army there and end their attempt to separate the northern colonies from the southern colonies. If the British had been successful in that fall of 1777, the revolution likely would have been weakened considerably – perhaps allowing the Brits to triumph over the Continental Army.

Because of this captain’s valor, Congress restored his full confession and he was soon promoted to Major General, becoming one of General Washington’s must trusted officers. Because of this truth, Washington appointed this man as the commander of West Point – a strategically placed fort near New York City. What Washington did not know was that his trusted officer was having secret conversations with the British providing them critical details about the movements and supplies of the Continental Army. Then, less than two months after being given command of West Point, he made a deal with the British to allow them to capture the fort and take control of it. Fortunately, the spy carrying the message was captured and the letter was found allowing the fort to be secured. Upon learning that the message had been intercepted, this general escaped to officially join with the British army and given commission as a Brigadier General. He would serve the Brits well winning multiple victories including destroying a town near the place of his birth in Connecticut. About a year after joining the Brits, he left for London, where he would live (except for a few years) for the rest of his life.

This man, successful throughout his military career on both sides is not known for the battles he won. Nor is he known for being a very successful businessman – which he was before the war and to some extent after it as well. No, this man is known for one act and by one word. The act – betrayal. The word – traitor. The name – Benedict Arnold.

Benedict Arnold learned to be a master player of games. Many have debated why Arnold chose to betray his country and several theories have been offered. But it likely had to do with the company he kept – which was a group of British sympathizers which included his wife Peggy. Whatever the cause, despite his leadership efforts during military times, his game playing not only deprived him of being considered one of the heroes of the American Revolution, but also has vilified him so that he is considered one of the worst individuals to have lived in this nation of ours.

Benedict Arnold’s story is not unique, however. Certainly, the details are unique to him, but betraying family, friends, and countries is nothing new. Last week we reviewed two plots which ultimately could be considered a betrayal of family. This week, we will see that the games Absalom played were just the beginning of a greater plot which lead to the betrayal of his father, and thus, in effect, a betrayal of the country as well.

Last week’s message focused on three plots found in 2 Samuel 13 and 14. The plots (or games that were played) were attempts at selfish gain. Amnon and Absalom’s games had a severe consequence for another person. Joab’s ploy was seemingly helpful to Absalom, but it certainly did not hurt his cause with the king (or with Absalom). However, Absalom was deeply involved in the game now and, as such, had to continue to “play games” to ensure the outcome would be beneficial to him. However, deceit and game-playing are eventually exposed and often lead to unpleasant consequences which, for Absalom, included death.

Having returned to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 14:23-24; 28), Absalom gains an audience with the king (2 Samuel 24:33) and begins to conspire against David to make himself the king. David is temporarily removed from the throne as Absalom wins the hearts of the people, but eventually he would die while leading Israel’s army against those faithful to David.

A Plot to Be Restored (2 Samuel 14:28-33)

Absalom knew that Joab had intervened to get him back to Jerusalem, but after two more years had passed, Absalom still had not come before the king. After trying to get Joab to respond, Absalom forces the issue and eventually is welcomed by David.
  • Motive: To gain access to the king (2 Samuel 14:28, 32)
  • Accomplice: Absalom’s servants (30); Joab (eventually, 33)
  • Game: Absalom had Joab’s field set on fire to force Joab to interact with him (29-31)
  • Result: Joab listens to Absalom and eventually has him summoned to the king (32-33)
  • Winners/Losers: Winner – Absalom, he got the audience he wanted; Loser – Joab, his field was burned

A Plot to Be Received (2 Samuel 15:1-6)

Having been received by the king, Absalom needed the people of Israel to rally behind him. Absalom established himself among the people by pretending to be a caring leader (judge) who would do right by anyone in Israel that had a dispute.
  • Motive: Absalom needed the support of the people of Israel (v. 6)
  • Accomplice: Absalom’s servants (v. 1)
  • Game: Absalom pretended to be a commander of many (v. 1); he portrayed himself as one who cared more than the king (v. 3); he showed immense respect to those who approached him (v. 5)
  • Result: “Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (v. 6)
  • Winners/Losers: Winner – Absalom, the people of Israel were in his hands; Loser – David, implicitly, because the people loved Absalom

A Plot to Be King (2 Samuel 15:7-14)

Absalom now has the people behind him, but to take the throne from David directly while in Jerusalem would likely fail. Thus, he devises a plan to announce himself as king in Hebron and then return to Jerusalem further strengthened with the support of the people.
  • Motive: To become king (v. 10)
  • Accomplice: Absalom’s servants/messenger, innocent guests (10-11)
  • Game: Absalom asked David if he could go to worship God, but used the request as a tactic to make himself king (7-12)
  • Result: The people of Israel are duped into following someone they thought would be a worthy leader
  • Winners/Losers: Winner – Absalom, he positioned himself to be king and had David’s counselor (Ahithophel) at his side; Loser – David and his servants, when David heard the message, they fled (13-14)

A Plot to Be Buried (2 Samuel 18:9-18)

Absalom gained all he desired. But in the end, his gain was short-lived. Absalom’s death was necessary to restore David as God’s chosen king. All the plotting in the world could not keep him from being buried in a plot with a monument over it.


Most everyone likes to play some sort of game – whether it is sports, board games, video games, or something else. However, we must all be on guard against playing games – that is, not to plot against others. Major General Arnold liked to play games, and although it did not cost him his life, it has left a horrible legacy that is etched into American lore. Similarly, Absalom was masterful in his game-playing ability. He used his skills to take the place of the king in his time rather than waiting for David to die. (This assumes Chileab, 2 Sam 3:3, had already died, which is certainly possible because his name is not mentioned elsewhere.) But Absalom’s games cost over 20,000 people their lives (2 Sam. 18:7) – all so he could get his way.

However, as one who simply plays the game, rather than makes it, Absalom is subject to the same rules of life as everyone else. Thus, God restored David as the rightful king showing He was in control. And, just as importantly for us, God is still in control today. For as Galatians 6.7 reminds us: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”


The JOURNEY letter for today is:  RREVERE.

Like last week, our choice comes down to whether or not we wish to play games to gain an apparent advantage or whether we will trust God for what He has for us. I don’t often mention our Mission anymore, and I should. This idea is about Exalt the Savior. We can exalt ourselves and play games because we think we are more important than we are, or we can Exalt the Savior who gave Himself up for us despite the fact that we are nothing compared to Him. Thus, we should REVERE our God.


Again, we have overlap here from last week. Playing games is done in order to manipulate a situation to our advantage. Oftentimes that manipulation comes at the expense of other people. Thus, playing games is really the opposite of love. If we truly exhibit the Great Commandment to love God and love others, then we will seek to be honest and truthful in our dealings with them and trust that God will provide what we need.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Seeking God’s Heart – Playing Games (Part 1)

This new series is based upon 2 Samuel. The general message outlines were written by Pastor Andy as part of a project for LifeWay to coincide with the quarter’s Explore the Bible Sunday School material. Because LifeWay owns the copyright, for full disclosure, a link to the original sermon idea is provided here.

Susan and I are in the process of purging several items from our home. In the process we have found some personal momentos from our past and have taken the time to read many of the letters we wrote to one another when we were dating – especially when we lived in different towns while attending college. One of the most repetitious statements I made was my goal to make her happy. Well, I believe I have done that well in most every area of our life together except one – I do not like to play games, and she does.

The reason I do not like to play games is that as an only child, I played games by myself all the time. Although we lived in the city, my grandparents lived next door to us from the time I was 4 until I was 13, so I often stayed home alone while both of my parents were at work. Thus, I would play various bored games for hours and hours every day. For instance, I would play Monopoly with all of the pieces and I was the “player” for every piece – day after day after day. So, playing Monopoly is not something I enjoy. And many other games are the same for me. But Susan does like to play games.

So, when we were dating, we would occasionally play games, and that included going to play miniature golf. Well, when it comes to sports, I used to be hyper-competitive, and one round I was winning by several strokes with only a couple of holes to play. But for some reason, I could no longer sink a putt. In fact, on the last hole, I kept missing very short putts until she realized what I was doing. Now, I was not going to lose, but I thought it would be smart not to win either. Well, I was wrong, and she was rightfully upset. Of course, I apologized and she forgave me and we a happily married (except for the lack of games!).

Why have I shared this story about playing a game? Because besides playing games for fun and recreation, some people “play games” attempting to deceive others – like I was doing during mini-golf. For many, playing a game is about entertainment or having fun. But for most winning is important. The drive to win will cause some to bend or break the rules. This is true when families play board games or when athletes take their position. For those who look to cheat the system, they are doing more than playing a game, they are playing games. “Playing games” occurs in various aspects of our lives as well. The use of deceit, manipulation, etc., are all about gaining an advantage over someone else, and the Bible has many examples of those who are cunning, including David and his family. For instance, David’s kindness in 2 Samuel 9 turned to cunning in chapter 11, and when his initial plan did not work, he had Uriah killed. In this week’s message, we see David’s sons Amnon (2 Sam 13) and Absalom (chapter 13), as well as his nephew Joab (chapter 14) use deception for selfish motives as well. Next week, we will see how this series of plots (game-playing) ultimately caused more loss than gain for the various players.

As we have seen thus far in 2 Samuel, David is a faithful and compassionate man. The book begins with David mourning the death of the king even though he stood to gain the title. Later, David shows kindness to the king’s grandson. But, as we saw last week, King David’s motives were not always so pure. David’s children may have known of the early example their father set, but they, along with their cousin Joab, certainly learned the craft of manipulation and deceit along the way. They learned to “play games” and “plot” to get what they desired. This week, I will share three different plots outlined in 2 Samuel 13 and 14, and try to determine the winners and losers in each.

A Plot of Lust (2 Samuel 13:1-19)

Amnon professed to love his half-sister Tamar. His love for her had become unhealthy, even to the point of lust. Amnon sought counsel and a plan was devised for him to be alone with Tamar where he violated her. As is the usual case with lust, Amnon now despised what he desired, and had her removed from his presence.

  • Motive: Tormented by Love (2 Samuel 13:1-2)
  • Accomplice: The Crafty Friend – also Cousin (3-5)
  • Game: Amnon would pretend to be ill, so Tamar would care for him (6-12)
  • Result: Amnon violated Tamar, hated her for it, and cast her from his sight (13-19)
  • Winners/Losers*: No winners, all were losers as Amnon got what he wanted, but couldn’t enjoy it.

*The Winner and Loser is only attributed to the immediate and near-term consequences, not the long-term implications.

A Plot of Anger (2 Samuel 13:20-29)

Absalom (Tamar’s brother) discovers that Tamar has been violated and seeks to protect her. When David learns of the situation, he was angry, but did not resolve the matter. Absalom may have waited for David to respond, but after two full years, Absalom has had ample time to devise a plan to kill Amnon.

  • Motive: Hatred, Revenge (2 Samuel 13:20-22)
  • Accomplice: Servants of Absalom, under his orders (28-29)
  • Game: Press David into allowing Amnon and the other sons to come to him (23-27)
  • Result: Amnon is murdered; Absalom flees for his safety
  • Winners/Losers: Winner – Absalom, in part – he avenged his sister, but must flee for his safety; Loser: Amnon

A Plot for Power (2 Samuel 14:1-24)

Joab knew the king loved Absalom and wanted to help him. Rather than going to the king himself, Joab used a woman to confront the king for him. A favorable response would further endear Joab to the king. Absalom would also appreciate Joab because he would be closer to being restored as David’s son. If the king responded negatively, Joab’s ploy, presumably, would not have exposed him. Therefore, Joab has much to gain, and virtually no chance at losing.

  • Motive: Get Absalom back to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 14:1-24)
  • Accomplice: A woman from Tekoa (2-3)
  • Game: Remain in favor with David (v.22) and gain favor with Absalom
  • Result: Absalom returns to Jerusalem, but is not to appear before David
  • Winners/Losers: Winners – Absalom, back in Jerusalem; Joab, favor with the king; Losers – None


Each of these plots is about showing or gaining power. Each person was selfish in their motive, but the ultimate goal was to display one’s perceived authority and/or secure it for the future. Amnon’s plot was to force Tamar to be with him so his desires could be fulfilled. Absalom’s plot was to kill Amnon which, incidentally, would also move him closer to the throne (Amnon was the firstborn of David). Joab wanted to secure his position of authority when the time came for a new king.

In each case, a temporary win was achieved, but only Joab did not face consequence. Likewise, when we “play games” with others we may be victorious in the moment, but at what cost? Just as I “gained victory” by not winning the mini-golf match with Susan, I still had to apologize because she was frustrated when she realized what I was doing.

As for the three men in this week’s message, the Bible does not give any indication that they ever repented. Their motives and actions were selfish. David also played games at times (e.g. with Uriah), but when he did, he repented before God. Let us realize when we are playing games, perhaps even deceiving ourselves, so that we will respond as David did – by repenting and turning (back) to Jesus.


The JOURNEY letter for this week is: RREVERE.

I had to stop and think about which letter fit best this week. Playing games creates disunity and tears down as opposed to nurturing others. But ultimately, our game playing is deceit which is an offense against God (i.e. Do not lie) and thus, I think REVERE is best. When we revere Jesus, we do not need to lie. When we revere Jesus, we do not want to lie. When we revere Jesus, we do not need to play games in order to get what we want because we are trusting that Jesus will provide for us. So, we can scheme and play games or we can trust in Jesus. The choice seems simple, but many still choose to play games.


If we love someone, we will not play games that will harm them. As Paul wrote in Philippians 2, we are to have the mind of Christ, which includes thinking with humility – that is, to consider others more significant than we do ourselves. That is the type of love that does not envy and is not rude. And when we love like that, we are not only loving others, we are loving God in the process.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Seeking God’s Heart – A Faithful Servant

This new series is based upon 2 Samuel. The general message outlines were written by Pastor Andy as part of a project for LifeWay to coincide with the quarter’s Explore the Bible Sunday School material. Because LifeWay owns the copyright, for full disclosure, a link to the original sermon idea is provided here.


Success. The word conjures up many thoughts. We can debate what the nature of success is or how one achieves success or even the benefits of being successful. But for the Christian, the question must be, “How does God define success?” This question may also generate a good deal of debate based upon how well or how much someone does something. But the simplest answer to the question can be found in one word – faithfulness. The word faithful can be broken down to mean “full of faith.” We are faithful when we live in faith and live by faith. But that is more difficult to do than we might think. We can be faithful to our family, our jobs, our friends, and certainly to God. In fact, our passage this week (2 Samuel 11) talks a great deal about faithfulness – toward man and toward God. But to truly be faithful, we must consider that our service and love for God is expressed by our service and love toward others (Mark 12:30-31; 1 John 4:20-21).

2 Samuel 11 involves three warriors – David, Joab, and Uriah. Although each of these men had different responsibilities (David as king, Joab as commander, Uriah as soldier), each generally served his leader faithfully. However, the great lesson for us today is that like David, our faithfulness will be severely tested at times. The question is how will we respond? Hopefully, like David, we will find ourselves turning back to God through repentance – for truly that is the only way we can be found faithful in the end.

But before we get to David, let us begin by reviewing how Uriah and Joab were faithful.

Uriah: Faithful in Duty

Everything we know about Uriah shows him to be faithful to his duty. Offered the chance to be with his wife, he did not leave because of a sense of duty. The Bible paints a very positive picture of Uriah; we do not know any of his faults. (We do know he did get drunk, but only because the king made him – v. 13.) We also know that Uriah was more than just an ordinary soldier – he was one of David’s trusted warriors. 2 Samuel 23.39 shows that Uriah was one of David’s mighty men. So, Uriah was faithful to his king and to his duty. And that faithfulness is what ultimately got him killed. Consider four ways that Uriah was faithful.
  • Uriah slept at the king’s door instead of his bed. (2 Sam. 11:9-11)
  • Uriah slept with the king’s servants, but not in his own bed (2 Sam. 11:12-13)
  • Uriah delivered a letter (his death sentence) to his commander (2 Sam. 11.14-15)
  • Uriah fought on the frontlines as commanded (2 Sam. 11.16-17)

Uriah was faithful in his duty. And that duty included being faithful to his commander.

Joab: Faithful in Command

Joab was a faithful commander of the Israelite army, but he was not always faithful to David (he killed Abner out of revenge for having killed his brother (see 2 Samuel 3.26-30). Joab was a nephew of David (1 Chronicles 2:16) and he was also another of the mighty men of David (2 Sam. 23.18-19).
  • Joab was faithful to send Uriah home. (2 Sam. 11:6)
  • Joab was faithful to send Uriah to die. (2 Sam. 11:16-21)
  • Joab was faithful in command, but to his own end (He tried to gain favor with Absalom to maintain his power after David was no longer king. See 2 Samuel 14.)

Joab, like Uriah, was faithful in most ways to their human leader. but with David we have a more complete story.

David: Faithful in the End

The depiction of David until this story is of a young man who is faithful to both man and God. He is a mighty warrior and has become a mighty king. But, like all of us, he is not perfect. The story of David and Bathsheba provides a great example of Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 10:12, and the promise of verse 13. David did not have those verses to consult, but he did know the mercies of God for those who fail and repent. Thankfully, this same story provides us with a model of repentance as well. We may fall in the middle, but we can still be faithful in the end.
  • David’s lack of fidelity led to a plan of deceit. (2 Sam 11:1-6)
  • David’s lack of integrity led to additional sin. (2 Sam. 11:12-13, 15)
  • David’s dedication to God led him to repent. (2 Sam. 12:13; Psalm 51)

This last point is so crucial for us. Many people start strong, but are they faithful to the end? David started strong and fell hard in the middle, but because he repented he serves as a model for us today. We can learn a great deal from David’s story. It is being faithful at the end that counts. Jesus told a parable about seed that fell on four types of soil (Matthew 13). Three of the seeds began to show some life, but only one truly took root. That is only one type of soil was “faithful” and because of that it bore much fruit. It is not enough to start well, it is finishing well that matters.


In recent months, we have seen many high-profile leaders fall for various reasons. The governor of Missouri resigned, as did the President of the SBC Executive Committee, some professors at SBC seminaries, and other leaders have been forced to leave office due to a variety of issues related to sin. The truth is that being in a position of leadership makes any sin magnified and spreads through the public more quickly. And the public, including Christians, are often not as willing to forgive as God is. Of course, only God knows the sincerity of the heart when someone repents. But let us not be deceived into thinking these high-profile leaders are the only ones capable, or culpable, of sin. You and I sin daily, but thankfully, our sin is not broadcast on television or the internet. Likewise, the people in our story today were guilty of sin, but only David’s sin was fully revealed.

The Bible does not reveal any of Uriah’s faults, but Paul wrote that each of us sins, so Uriah had them. The Bible does share a few of Joab’s faults, but it does not have any record of him repenting. We definitely know some of David’s faults, but more importantly, we know that despite his failures, he desired God, who called David “a man after my heart.” David’s life should be an encouragement to us because, although he failed in many ways, he was found to be faithful in the end.

We have seen each of these three individuals as faithful through a certain perspective. While, people may disagree on what makes a person or church faithful, Hebrews 11:6 says we cannot please God without faith. Thus, as I mentioned at the beginning, our success is somewhat tied to our faithfulness to God. That is, if acting on faith pleases God, we must consider being faithful important in God’s definition of success. Each of us, despite our flaws and our sins, can be found faithful in the end when we seek forgiveness from the One in whom we place our trust. We can be certain of this truth because Jesus has always been faithful – from beginning to end.


The JOURNEY letter for today is: OOBSERVE.

A part of being faithful is to follow the expectations of others. Uriah did this. Joab did this. And, ultimately, David did this. We must do the same, but ultimately our being faithful is to follow the expectations of Jesus. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28.19-20), Jesus said that making disciples includes not only teaching others about what He said, but to “observe” everything He commanded. The promise then, for those who do, is to hear the phrase we should all desire to hear, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25.21). As I often comment though, to hear well done, means we had to do.

Being faithful requires us doing something. Last week, that doing included being kind (not just nice) to others. This week, we must consider that our faithfulness begins when we realize how unclean we are. Like David, in his prayer of repentance (Psalm 51), we must confess our sins and ask God to cleanse us and make us new. When we do, we are then equipped to begin observing everything else He has for us to do. And, as we observe, we will find ourselves moving closer to hearing that we have done well and been a faithful servant.


Many people find the demands of Jesus too difficult. And, let’s face it, it is impossible to live up to the standards He demands. But that is why He came to die. He died so that we might live. He doesn’t want us to just be alive physically, He wants us to live our lives with purpose. It is not for us to look at what He demands and just give up; rather, we are to strive towards obedience (see Paul in Philippians 3.12-14), knowing that He has made the path possible for us. This week, choose to live faithfully. Begin by confessing whatever needs to be confessed, and then choose to live according to the standards placed before you (by yourself, your spouse, your boss, by God, whomever). This idea may sound easy, but actually living faithfully in all those roles may make this next week the hardest week of the year.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Seeking God’s Heart – More Than Nice

This new series is based upon 2 Samuel. The general message outlines were written by Pastor Andy as part of a project for LifeWay to coincide with the quarter’s Explore the Bible Sunday School material. Because LifeWay owns the copyright, for full disclosure, a link to the original sermon idea is provided here.

When I was a young boy, each time we would be going to someone’s house for dinner, I received what came to be known as the “Andy Lecture.” The “Andy Lecture” was very simple, but my parents were very serious about it. The lecture was this: “Eat whatever is put on your plate.” This was an important statement because I did not (and still do not) like most vegetables. By the time I reached about 10 years of age, my parents quit giving me the Andy Lecture. Instead, they simply said those two words – “Andy Lecture” – and I knew what they meant.

The truth is most children receive some sort of instruction from their parents when going to visit others. I would suppose that one of the main phrases many parents have told their child(ren) is to “be nice.” The phrase is meant to encourage (or warn) a child that a certain type of behavior is expected in a certain setting. The idea of being nice is effectively meant as a way of saying “get along with others.” The definition of the word suggests that we are agreeable or pleasant. As such, the idea of being nice is passive and can be faked for a period of time.

On the other hand, the notion of being kind is a matter of character. Kindness requires being considerate and even benevolent toward others. In other words, to be kind requires action – and that action is for the benefit of others. Therefore, people may be able to fake kindness for a while, but eventually, their true nature will be exposed.

In our passage today, 2 Samuel 9, David extended kindness to Mephibosheth because of his relationship to Jonathan but also because David was kind. Anyone can be nice, at least for a time, but kindness runs deeper; it is a part of our core. As Paul shared in two different letters, kindness is a part of love (1 Corinthians) and is evident as fruit of God’s Spirit within us (Galatians).

David exhibited kindness to Mephibosheth because of his affection for Jonathan. No one asked or demanded that David be nice; rather, David was kind because that was his nature. David’s desire to be kind is evident throughout the passage and shows him to truly be a man after God’s own heart.

David Shows Kindness

For Jonathan’s sake (2 Sam 9:1) – David asks others remembering his covenant to Jonathan.
  1. David asks the question of those who provide him counsel (“they” in v. 2)
  2. Ziba provides information for David to show his kindness (vv.3-4)

For the sake of your father – David talking to Mephibosheth (2 Sam 9.7)
  1. David tells Mephibosheth why he desires to be kind to him. (v. 7)
  2. Mephibosheth was extended the honor of eating at the king’s table (vv. 7, 13)

Culturally, to be a guest at another’s table was a high honor, But Mephibosheth was not just a guest, he was considered as a son (v.11).

Ziba and his family become servants of Mephibosheth (vv. 9-12)
Mephibosheth lived like a prince while the work was done for him. Ziba, his family, and servants were certainly not left for want.

David Shows the Kindness of God (2 Samuel 9:3)

David’s kindness was a reflection of God’s love. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

David did not owe Mephibosheth anything, but honored him with a place at the table nonetheless.
Mephibosheth could do little for David, but David respected him nonetheless by returning His land.

We Can Show Kindness Because of God’s Spirit.

True kindness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)

True kindness cannot be faked, because it is a part of who we are.


Being nice and being kind are not the same idea. How nice we are is based upon the perception of others whereas the nature of our kindness is ultimately evaluated by God. My parents gave me the “Andy Lecture” because they wanted me to be nice – it was about the perception of others on me and on them. But kindness is far deeper. Consider Jesus, for instance. Many in Jesus’ day would not likely have considered him nice (calling people vipers – Matthew 23:33; or turning over tables in the temple – Matthew 21:12 – would not be considered nice), but his benevolent nature was evident in everything He did.

David showed extraordinary kindness to the son of a deceased friend for the sake of that friend. David intentionally acted out of the goodness of his heart to share what he had with another. Truly, David’s action in this passage ties everything together we have learned in the last four weeks. David’s love for Jonathan motivated him to seek continued reconciliation with the house of Saul long after Jonathan’s death. His desire to show kindness allows an otherwise unknown and forgotten individual to experience the generosity of a king.

The link to God is, thus, right before us. We can easily see David as one who seeks the heart of God through these actions. Consider that God, likewise, was motivated by love to reconcile us, a group of relatively unknown and unimportant individuals, and showed us extraordinary kindness by the giving of His Son. We have been shown this kindness, in part, so that we might share what we have with others as well. If you and I want to be known as a man or woman after God’s heart, we need to be more than nice to others; we need to show them kindness.


The JOURNEY letter for today is: NNURTURE.

To nurture someone or something requires kindness. It requires intention. Thus, it requires action. We have heard it said that someone was nurtured back to health. Or we have seen the differences in development between a young child who was nurtured and another who was neglected. The same is true with our faith. We grow in our faith and understanding if we are intentional to act – to read, to pray, to serve. A faith that is neglected shrivels up and dies. To paraphrase James 2, “Let me show you my faith by what I do.” In other words, let me prove my faith by my service to God and others. Let me prove myself by being kind. When we nurture others we are being kind. We are showing love. We are allowing one part of the Spirit’s fruit to be manifest in our lives. To nurture others is to be kind, which is a part of the true nature of love.

NEXT STEP(S): So how can you be more nurturing this week?

LOVE. If we are going to seek to have a heart like God, we must reflect on the love He has for us. Today, that begins with remembering His sacrifice as we partake of the Lord’s Supper. But as we do, we must remember that His kindness to us required serving in the most extreme manner. His death for us was not about being nice; it was an act of immeasurable kindness. Therefore, for us to show kindness to others, we must be willing to serve as well. Over the past month, we have discussed our need to be motivated by love, to allow that love to move us toward reconciliation, and to be available to God no matter how insignificant we may feel. Now, all of that aligns with the need to express kindness to others so that God might be known through our acts of serving others.