Thursday, June 16, 2022

              In I Kings 2, David is nearing death.  He’s enjoyed a prominent place in Israel as a musician, writer, defeater of Goliath and Israel’s second king.  He was not perfect but he was called a man after God’s own heart.  His place in Israel’s history remains secure even to this day.  As we read I King 2:1-12, we discover some parting words and charges that David gave to Solomon—his son and successor to the throne of Israel.  When we read these words, we find a mixture of things.  David began with good counsel.  “’I am about to go the way of all the earth,’ he said. ‘So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel’” (I Kings 2:2-4).  Walk with the Lord and obey Him was the central message.  And those are commendable words to and for each of us.
            But what follows is where we find the mixture.  For example, David urged Solomon to shows kindness to Barzillai but to bring judgment and execution upon Joab and Shimei.  There were some long-stewing resentments that David carried to his grave.  He even tried to perpetuate that resentment by charging his son Solomon to take care of these men not long after he had died.  Looking at this scene of both kindness and resentment, we see some lessons that might help us as we live today.  First, do not wait to show kindness.  Do it now.  You might choose to bless someone in your will or estate but you might want to bring a blessing to someone here and now while you are alive.  There is never a wrong time to show kindness to others—and especially if they have nothing to offer you in return.  Blessing someone after you depart is fine and good.  But seek to be a blessing here and now. 
            Second, do not carry resentment in life.  Do not wake up each day with a burning bitterness or dislike inside you.  If you do this, you only harm yourself and no one else.  Pettiness, jealousy, getting even and harboring bad feelings toward someone is no way to live.  And you surely do not want to approach death with these kinds of feelings rattling around in your mind and heart.  Make peace with those you dislike.  Ask for forgiveness or be quick to grant it to those who ask it of you.  Pray for your enemies.  Be kind to those who have hurt you or intended to harm you.  We are all sinful, fallen people who have possibly been on both sides of resentment and bitterness—the perpetrator and the recipient.  Relieve yourself of any bitterness and lighten the load that you carry in life.
            Third, keep short accounts with others.  Do not put off to the end of life what you could easily and credibly do today.  We often daydream about “one day” or “someday” but those times often never come and in the midst of daydreaming we lose today.  Take action today if you have some unsettled accounts where you need forgiveness or have kindness to show to someone else.  Seize this day or moment as a time to do that. 
            Fourth, and this is a hard lesson to learn, there will be many people who simply never measure up to what you want them to be or the standards you have.  They will not.  They will disappoint you and frustrate you.  They will provoke and aggravate you.  But, you are likely the same way yourself in someone else’s eyes.  No, people do not always act as we would like or measure up to what we would like to see.  But you and I do not always measure up either.  We come up short.  We fail.  We fall short of the glory of God and the standards or expectations that other people may have for us.  There is no perfect Christian, no perfect preacher, no perfect church, no perfect teacher and no perfect doctor.   
            And finally, at times, all we can do is shake hands, love the other person but still perhaps disagree or deal with some disappointment.  We cannot control or reprogram others as we want them to be.  Leave that to God who can change hearts, minds and lives.  Keep on loving those who disappoint you.  Seek good for them.  Do good to them.  And live graciously with them.  You will never be disappointed that you offered someone a spirit of graciousness and goodness.  May we live humbly today and seek to complicate the lives of others far less.  May we not live painful lives or hold on to the pain that others have inflicted on us.  You and I, as followers of Christ, remain “works in progress” because God, thankfully, is not finished with us yet.  Have a wonderful Thursday!  And we wish a happy Father’s Day this Sunday to all the dads, grandpas and great-grandpas in our lives!   

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