Monday, January 13, 2014

Unhealthy Rivalry

At the end of chapter 18, Saul knew that the Lord was with David. God had given David wisdom and favor with men. Saul should have rejoiced at this since David was a loyal servant of his. However, his response is one of intense jealousy. Instead of honoring David, Saul seeks to kill him.
         David is a good example of a model who then becomes a rival. As long as he is a model and one to be imitated, all is well. But Saul would not do that. He saw David as a threat and so the good man becomes a rival that must be eliminated.
         We have much to learn from David and from Saul. We are called to imitate others. We should imitate those of sound character. We should imitate men and women that we know have the wisdom of God and whom the Lord is with. If we follow God’s Spirit we will do just that. We will look to good examples and seek to emulate them. But if we see them as a threat to us for some reason, then we end up doing them harm rather than extolling their virtues.
       This is a very real danger in the life of the saints. We look to imitate others for various reasons. They may be good at a particular task that we would like to improve upon. This might be homemaking, sports, speaking, work, Christian disciplines, some Christian virtue, say kindness. We notice this and we strive to work on it. But then we realize that they are getting recognition that we feel like we should get. Then, our admiration turns and we seek to downplay the same virtues we were trying to copy. Or worse, we run down other parts of their character to make them look less godly so that we appear more so.
         Whenever a model is seen as a threat to us, we run the risk of an unhealthy rivalry. In Saul’s case, he literally sought to murder David. But the Bible says that to call your brother empty head or fool is tantamount to murder. It is murder in the heart. It is the same impulse.
Incidentally, real fools are not a threat to us. We do not mind them. It is only when our models are a threat that they become rivals and we feel compelled to murder them with our tongues. So, it is an odd by product that we end up lashing out at the godly and befriending the fool. Rivalries make strange bedfellows and help us to understand how people justify making the enemy of my enemy my friend.

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