J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

The Glorious Burden to Care for Others

Psalm 122: 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. 7 May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” 8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” 9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.

 The expression “glorious burden” describes the privilege that those in places of authority have to seek the good of those under their care.

Pastors have this as they shepherd and preach to their people.

Parents have this as they raise and teach their children.

Teachers have this. Politicians have this.

Essentially, all who have the privilege to care have this.

In reading David’s prayer in Psalm 122, you see a clear love for His people. He wanted their security. He wanted their peace. He wanted families to be safe. He wanted the prosperity of all of the people of God.

Today, each and every one of us bear this same glorious burden. It is neglected at times as we seek our good above others under our care, but we must always right ourselves to the heart of Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1b And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 Our perseverance in loving and caring for others comes from Jesus’ love and care to joyfully endure the cross for our sake. So then…

Pastors, pray for the ongoing needs of your people asking God for mercy at every turn.

Parents, pray for the safety and godliness of your children in a world where both are rare.

Spouses, pray for each other as the road of lifeline companionship is fraught with obstacles.

Business Owners, pray for your employees to serve with dignity in an environment that you have created that enables it.

Teachers, pray for learning and appreciation in what you teach.

Children, pray for you parents and their perseverance in the long road of caring for you.

Pray for all who you love and even your enemies that they may be blessed.

 

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May 17, 2016 Posted by | church, church planting, family worship, father, gospel, men, mission, missional | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love of God vs Love of the World – 1 Samuel 18:17ff

I don’t know how many of us can say that we have been truly hated in our life.  If your junior high school experience was like mine, then you may have experienced some pretty bad hostility, maybe even some bullying – but I don’t know how many of us know what it means to be hated.  If you have, I’m sympathetic and my heart hurts for you.

Now, maybe, you don’t care if people hate you but I bet if it is someone that you care about or have cared about, their hatred hurts you greatly.  I can honestly say that there have been a few times that I have felt hated by some people and those were miserable times.  Looking back however, I can also say that I bore a good measure of responsibility for that hatred.  I know that even in matters of Godliness and matters of church, I can be arrogant, impatient, and judgmental, so that hatred was in part my responsibility.

Did you know that Jesus told his disciples and warned each and every one of us that if we have faith in Him and follow Him, that there is a guarantee that you and I and everyone else who takes the name Christian will be hated by some folks?  Perhaps no one told you that when they offered Jesus to you in faith, but faith in Jesus means hatred from the world.   We’re not talking about the hatred that often comes from the world when Christians are incredibly offense, judgmental, or self-righteous.  If you are a Christian and are judgmental and self-righteous to people who are not Christians, and they hate you, then you deserve that hatred.  Drink in the hatred if you want; just don’t call it persecution.

Hatred from the world comes from the offensive nature of Jesus, not from your offensive representation of Jesus.  This week in the book of 1 Samuel, we are going to look at an example of David being hated for his faith.  In it, we are going to see what it means to stand for Godliness in an ungodly world and we will also see what it looks like to endure worldy hatred with Godliness.  So with that in mind, let’s pursue this Big Idea.

Big Idea:  The love of the Father comes at the cost of hatred from the world

Much like our story of David and Goliath two weeks ago, this story of David is lengthy and I think it is best understood being read straight through, so if you would bear with me, allow me to begin reading at 1 Samuel 18:17

1 Samuel 18:17 Then Saul said to David, “Here is my elder daughter Merab. I will give her to you for a wife. Only be valiant for me and fight the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “Let not my hand be against him, but let the hand of the Philistines be against him.” 18 And David said to Saul, “Who am I, and who are my relatives, my father’s clan in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?”

 19 But at the time when Merab, Saul’s daughter, should have been given to David, she was given to Adriel the Meholathite for a wife.  20 Now Saul’s daughter Michal loved David. And they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 21 Saul thought, “Let me give her to him, that she may be a snare for him and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him.” Therefore Saul said to David a second time,  “You shall now be my son-in-law.” 22 And Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David in private and say, ‘Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love you. Now then become the king’s son-in-law.’”

 23 And Saul’s servants spoke those words in the ears of David. And David said, “Does it seem to you a little thing to become the king’s son-in-law, since I am a poor man and have no reputation?” 24 And the servants of Saul told him, “Thus and so did David speak.” 25 Then Saul said, “Thus shall you say to David, ‘The king desires no bride-price except a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that he may be avenged of the king’s enemies.’” Now Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.

 26 And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son-in-law. Before the time had expired, 27 David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law.

 And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife. 28 But when Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, 29 Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually.  30 Then the princes of the Philistines came out to battle, and as often as they came out David had more success than all the servants of Saul, so that his name was highly esteemed.

Over the last few weeks, we have seen David rise to leadership within the Kingdom of Saul.  He plays music to alleviate Saul’s suffering from an evil spirit.  He defeats Goliath the champion of the Philistines thus securing the safety of all of God’s people.  He is even gaining fame among God’s people to the jealousy of the king.

Now, King Saul is keeping his word.  He promised to give His daughter’s hand in marriage to whomever defeated Goliath and he also promised to allow that champion’s family to live tax free – not a bad deal.  Saul offers his daughter Merab to David and commissions David to continue on as a solider for the people of God.  But as Saul typically does, he is also working an angle.  Saul is willing to have his daughter marry David and then send David off to fight the Philistines so that they can kill David so he doesn’t have to.

You know what my first reaction is to this?  What a terrible father Saul is.  Specifically, what a terrible father to a daughter Saul is.  He is going to hand his daughter over to a man that she does not know so they can be married and then her new husband can be killed leaving his daughter widowed.  What a mess this guy is.  Parents, please don’t use your children to make you feel better about yourself or use them to accomplish what you have been unable to accomplish.  None of us have kingly powers, but please don’t use your kids for you own gain.  Saul is a mess.

David however continues to display great faith and humility here.  Even though he rightfully can marry Saul’s daughter, he offers that his family is too low in status to actually marry her.  He doesn’t feel worthy of the honor, despite being incredibly Godly and despite actually being the King of Israel since Samuel anointed him a couple chapters back.  But in verse 19, we see that somehow, Merab was given to another man.  I don’t know if Saul just said okay when David felt unworthy or if there was some other power play that served Saul’s purpose, but Merab marries some dude named Adriel.  However, Saul had another daughter named Michal, and what’s nice is she actually likes David.  Saul finds out and thinks this is a great plan.

So in verse 21, he plans on manipulating Michal in the same way that he wanted to manipulate his other daughter.  So he offers Michal’s hand in marriage to David hoping that he can drag him into service once again and maybe the Philistines will kill him.  Saul sends his servants out with a kingly PR announcement.  “Hey it would be the great pleasure of the King if you David would marry his daughter.  The king takes great delight in calling you son in law blah, blah, blah” which is a flat out lie.  So Saul sends his servants to David to see if he is willing to marry Michael and once again David’s humility is astounding

David says, “Do you realize how great a thing it is to be the son in law of the king?  I don’t deserve it in anyway.  I can’t marry the daughter of the king.”  So the servants take David’s message of humility back to Saul which as you can imagine just seems to frustrate Saul’s plans.  And Saul plans, once again, hoping to take advantage of David’s Godliness.  If David feels like he has not earned the right to be the king’s son-in-law, which he definitely did through the whole Goliath thing, Saul decides to give him a chance to earn the right.  Saul tells David that if he wants to earn the right to be the king’s son-in-law, then he can do just that by bringing 100 Philistine foreskins to him.

David thinks this is a great idea.  It’s amazing what love will cause a man to do.  Now before we move on, let me explain exactly what Saul is asking.  Saul is asking David to personally kill 100 Philistine men.  Then, after they are dead, he wants David to cut off the foreskin of each man.  To give some explanation of that, the physical sign of being born into the people of God was the sacrament of circumcision where ever male more into a Jewish family would have their foreskin cut off on the 8th day after they were born.  This is why David called Goliath an uncircumcised Philistine.  The lack of circumcision was a physical sign of a person being separated from God.

So, Saul wants David to cut off the foreskins of the 100 men he kills.  Imagine the nasty, bloody work that David is enduring to marry Michal.  Ladies that is some dedication.  Men, that is commitment.  This of course is Saul’s billionth plan to try to have David killed while making it look like he was innocent of David’s blood.  But this is one of those occasions where God just keeps heaping blessing upon blessing upon the man in which God has chosen to bless.

David likes this plan and apparently wants to marry Michal, so he heads out, kills 200 Philistines, cuts off their foreskins and presents them to King Saul.  I have no idea how you do that.  Do you put them in box?  Does a box of 200 pieces of dead flesh need a bow?  What do you do with it once you’re done?  Did they have igloo coolers back then?  A sack maybe?  Either way, David earns the right to marry Michal by once again defeating the enemy of God’s people.  God has already set David aside to be king but now he earns the right to be in the kingly lineage by marrying Michal.  And God does it by once again securing the livelihood of the people of God by having their enemies defeated.

Our Sovereign King moves to set David up as king both spiritually and physically while at the same time securing the protection of His people.  What a great blessing to see God’s sovereign hand at work to bring about His plan and the blessings of His people.  So David finally gets married to Michal.  And despite Saul actually being the one who put all of this in place, once everything happens, he is more afraid.  I guess he just hoped that David would die while fighting the Philistines.  Saul should be afraid because he realizes that no matter what he does, no matter what evil plan he has, and no matter what hatred he has for David, God the Almighty is the one who is at work.  And God has chosen to bless all that David does.

Saul realized that God was with David and that the Lord was not with him.  Despite all of Saul’s efforts, the exact opposite of what he wanted to happen has come about.  Now, despite Saul’s best evil efforts, David is married to his daughter Michal.  Michal loves him a lot so it is not just a political marriage but a Godly one.  David has defeated the enemy of God’s people and God just keeps blessing and protecting him.  From that day, Saul hated David and David was his enemy.  On top of that, the Philistines kept pressing the people of God.  And David keeps winning battles and keeps winning regard in the eyes of the people of God.

Now situations like these are when we typically freak out.  For example, if I told you right now that in the next couple of weeks, your boss was going to hate you and put a plan in place to undermine your talent and your authority, how would you react?  If I told you that people were going to actively seek to take your life and that you would have to fight to protect it, how would you react?  Even if I told you that when it was all said and done, you would emerge victorious in these things and that God would bless you, how many of you would sign up for these hardships?

I imagine not many of us would, and that is why the church is weak today.  Ask yourself, and I’ll be honest, I hope that your thinking is more in line with David’s than what I fear, but if you knew that in the end, you would sit unreservedly under God’s favor, would you endure whatever hardship God ordained for you to endure.  Ask yourself that now.  Are you willing to be hated for the name of Christ?   Are you willing to endure massive trial with great risk for both your physical well-being as well as your livelihood and family for the sake of bringing honor and glory to God?

Is the unswerving love, affection, and approval of God earned for you through Jesus Christ enough for you to live a life where you say, “My life is not my own.  I die to my own desires so as to live out the desires of my heavenly father.”  That is what David did in several supreme acts of personal sacrifice and risk.  Before you answer that question, please hear what Jesus commands of you.  And know, I offer these sweets commands of our Savior to all of our hearts so that we know exactly what relationship we have been called to.

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Jesus commands each and every one of you who claim the name of Christian or claim faith in Jesus to love other people in the same way that Jesus loved you.  That means, that since you were God’s enemies and Jesus loved you openly and actively in the face of your hostility, you too are to pour out love, affection, and sacrifice to even those who hate you.  And Jesus describes the love that you are to display as laying down your life for the sake of your friends.  Now when you hear that you might say, “whew” I only have to lay down my life for the people I like.

There are definitely some people I don’t want to sacrifice for.  Thanks Jesus for making it easier on me.  That’s awesome.  But before you get to excited, Jesus explains His commandment and His expectation of you.  Jesus describes His followers as friends because a friend of Jesus obeys this command of loving others just as Jesus obeyed the command of His father.  Again, it sounds like, “Okay, I only have to love those who are my friends, but Jesus explains things even further.”

He says, “Hey if you believe in me (or as I would say if you believe in Jesus), it is not because you chose Jesus; it is because Jesus chose you.”  In fact, not only did Jesus choose you to believe, He chose you to actually bear fruit which means that Jesus has chosen that you will believe and be able to obey.  As much as was overcome for you to be saved which was your sin, your hostility towards death, your deserved fate in hell, your absolute desire to do what you want and not God wants, Jesus overcame that by choosing you and dying for you and rising again for you.  As sure as those things are, it is as sure that God’s people will be able to overcome their fears and obey.

Jesus chose His enemies to be His children and that was His work of love towards you, so if you have to love as Jesus loves, then you must make your enemies your friends as Jesus did by choosing to love them.  Let’s look at how that is going to go for you in verse 18.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

If you choose to love your enemies as Jesus has chosen to love you, some people are going to hate you just like some people hated Jesus.  That means that one of the indicators that you are walking faithfully in the life that Jesus has called of you is that you are going to be hated for His sake.  If you live a life where Jesus in your life does not produce some measure of hatred then Jesus says, you don’t know me because the only people that don’t receive hatred from the world are the people of the world.  But Jesus says, “Christian, you are not of this world, so expect people to hate you.”

Let me ask again, are you personally convicted and resolute in your faith in Jesus that you will live a life of such daunting love to others in the name of Jesus that you are willing and ready for people to hate you because of Jesus?  Once again let me clarify:  some people love to make people mad by starting fights about the Bible but that is not what is being talked about here.  Unfortunately, Christians love to be hated by “liberals” and homosexuals and other groups, but that is not what we are talking about here.  That is often blustery arrogance and pride and quite different than proclaiming Jesus and calling people to repentance.

What I’m asking is “Do you live out such an example of loving the unlovely that people hate you for offering grace to those who don’t deserve it?”  The call of following Jesus is one where you are promised absolute forgiveness and the undying affection of your heavenly Father.  But the cost of following Jesus, according to Jesus Himself, is that the world is going to hate you just like they hated Jesus.

Jesus tells us, “Listen, you are not greater than your master, so if your master is persecuted, you will be persecuted.”  If Jesus, your Lord and Savior, was hated, then you will be hated.  Does any one’s life look like this?  I say all of these things not because I want you to go immediately get into a fight with your neighbor so you can be hated.  No, I’m calling you to radically choose to love the unlovely just as Christ did.  I’m calling you to obey the command of your Savior to love others as you have been loved.  If the love of Jesus to you does not motivate you to love others, even very difficult and different people, then you must question how well you know the love of Jesus.

You know we had a conversation around this topic recently at Fight Club.  In the book of Acts, there is a vast number of people who hear the proclamation of Jesus, and they cry out to Peter and say “What should we do?”  Peter responds that they should repent, crying out to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, they should be baptized and that God has promised to do this work in their families as well.  Thousands of people responded ushering in the era of the church as we know it.  So far, so good, right?  That’s who many of us are, right?  We have cried out to Jesus in faith and forgiveness of sins.  However, what happens next is nothing short of remarkable.  The gathering of the church begins praying, studying, eating meals together, taking the Lord’s Supper together.  More and more people come to know Christ at great personal cost.  People profess faith in Jesus and lose their homes, families, and jobs, so these new believers begin selling their own goods so that others might not be in need.

God begins to work miraculously and people begin to be healed physically to coincide with their spiritual healing.  This loving of others like Jesus’ loving brings about exactly what Jesus says it will bring about:  opposition.  Peter gets dragged in front of bunch of folks who hate him because of Jesus, but Peter tells them how through repentance and faith, Jesus will save them and transform.  Peter even goes to jail for this.  Guess what happens?  All of this actually serves to encourage the church and the believers pray this prayer in Acts 3.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Persecution led to more boldness and faith and more people hearing of and responding to the call of Jesus.  Ok, so we have David obeying faithfully and being hated by Saul.  We have Jesus promising that following Him means you will be hated.  And we have the church in Acts proclaiming Jesus and being hated.  At the same time, we see the people of God growing and being made secure in every way.  The blessings to the church coincide with the fearless proclamation of the Gospel.  So as I love to ask, what would that look like if these things happened here at SK?

Let’s reckon this truth.  Christian, you are not your own.  You gave yourself away when you proclaimed faith in Jesus.  Whatever life you think you are building, the life you are to build is given over to God.  You better not buy house, get married, have a child, go to the beach, or any thing else in this world unless you feel that it absolutely consistent with the life of worship and sacrifice that God has called you to.  You are not your own.  You were purchased by Jesus at the cost of His blood.

Romans 14: For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

That means that you are God’s possession.  He may call you to live for His sake and He may call you to die for His sake.  Either way, you are to proclaim Jesus to this hurting world.  Unfortunately, in America, it is absolutely okay to build your nice, comfortable life with a good job and a good house and then squeeze some time for God and Jesus and church.  There is nothing sinful with a nice house or a good job.  It is sinful if you are just trying to secure a life of comfort and you squeeze God into the rest of your plans.

I guarantee that life won’t cause anyone to hate you.  You want to know why?  Because that life looks just like the world’s.  There is no offense there.  But you live a life where you say, “Everything I have is to poured out into affection and love and service for Jesus and you know what world?  Jesus calls to live the same way.  You are going to get one of two reactions.

  • Folks are going to heed that call and cry out in faith to Jesus.
  • Or folks are going to hate you because you have called them away from their idols of security.

I will offer 3 applications as we close

Live with an agenda of thankfulness for your relationship with God.  Jesus chose to love you and you were unlovely.  You hated Him and changed your hard heart and poured out grace and affection.

Live with an agenda of self-denial seeking God’s kingdom every relationship you have.

Love others as Jesus loved you which means the denial of self and an unflinching service to others.

Ask God to prepare your heart for both great changes done in people’s lives as well as intense hatred because of the name of Jesus.  You know when I lay this out, you might ask, “Gordon, why would I do this?  Why would I mature in my relationship with Jesus to such an extent that I would take on this level of personal sacrifice and this kind of pain and hurt and suffering?”  I would tell you the very same thing that I tell my heart and my wife’s heart and my family’s heart when you guys hurt us or when people in the world hates us.  The only thing that makes the pain worthwhile and the only thing that redeems the hurt is the beauty of Jesus. He is enough, and on the days when I don’t think He is enough because the pain is so great, I ask Jesus to make Himself enough in my heart and I know He can do the same for you.

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment