Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Absalom's End

Today is the third day of week twenty-one, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures today are 2 Sam 18-20; Romans 2; Psalm 34.

In yesterday's blog post, we talked about Absaloms in the church.  They try to impress people with their fancy wardrobe, flattering words, false wisdom, and flaunted wealth.  Yet they are manipulative, hungry for power, and rebellious against God-ordained authority.  There's good news, when it comes to Absaloms in the church.

The good news is that they tend to hang themselves by their own hair.  In 2 Samuel 18:31 (ESV), we read:  And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, 'Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.'”  The self-destructive tendencies of Absaloms is good news, because it means that their power won't last forever.  "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame. Their minds are set on worldly things (Phil 3:19 ISV)."  Often, the very things that they took their pride in, become their undoing.  Many years ago, I knew an Absalom in church who was very proud of his ability to manipulate through bullying.  He was a large man, with a commanding presence.  He loved to either impress people or intimidate them when he had a temper tantrum--either way, he got his way.  But eventually people caught onto what he was doing.  He hung himself by his own hair--meaning that he had one too many temper tantrums, and people called his bluff.  He stepped down from his position of power in the church, never to cause problems again (at least, as long as I was in that church).  Absaloms in the church tend to be self-destructive, in the end.  "They dig a deep pit to trap others, then fall into it themselves (Psalm 7:15 NLT)."

But the bad news is that they tend to hang themselves by their own hair.  In 2 Samuel 18:32-33 (ESV) we read: The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.”  And the king was deeply moved and went upto the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!”  Even though Absalom was David's enemy, the king never forgot that Absalom was first and foremost his son.  He grieved Absalom's passing, as he grieved Absalom's behavior.  The Christian ought never gloat or take pleasure in the self-destructive tendencies of his enemies.  This is a tragic thing.  We must remember that troublemakers in the church are our brothers and sisters in Christ, deserving of compassion and pity when they let their own glory get in the way of God's glory.  

When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples, they came back with stories to tell of God's goodness.  Luke 10:17-20 (ESV) says, "The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  Jesus didn't want the disciples to gloat over their victory over the devil.  He wanted them to rejoice in their own salvation, but never to take joy in the defeat of others.  

Have you recently had trouble with an Absalom in your church?  Trust that God will bring their self-glorification down on their own heads.  But grieve, because God will bring their self-glorification down on their own heads.  

It would be better if you could recognize an Absalom before he becomes an Absalom.  Through wisdom and discernment, mentoring and discipling, prayer and petition, see if the Lord won't change that person's path and make them a true and godly person instead.  What can you do to turn a future-Absalom away from that path?  Ask the Lord to show you, and to show you what you need to do, so that the battle won't have to be fought in the future.

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