He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
John 3:30, NLT
Before our Lord appeared, John the Baptist had incredible popularity. Thousands and thousands came to him as he preached in the wilderness of Judea. However, when Jesus initiated His own ministry, people left in droves to follow Him. Imagine having a wildly successful thing going, and the next day having it fizzle.
I have discovered that it is one thing to be the center of attention, and quite another to be a minor player. John the Baptist was the MVP, but overnight he was sent to the farm team (baseball metaphor). Men and women reach for center stage, to be in the limelight. But very few can move in the other direction gracefully.
A conductor was asked what the hardest instrument to play. The interviewer expected that it would be a saxophone or trombone or some other. The conductor just smiled, and said, “The hardest is the second violin”.
“How great victory was that which Jonathan must have gained over himself, when he rejoiced to see David raised above him! He discerned the mind of God in David, and had so learned to delight in God, that he did not see in David one who was to outshine him, but another faithful man raised up for God and Israel.”
–Robert C. Chapman
Jonathan understood who David really was. He had a sense of who was to be the new king. He had a conviction that understood David’s destiny and giftings. Jonathan turned his back decisively on being made king. Ambition was not in his vocabulary. He could rejoice with David. Knowing this, Jonathan became a free man.
We must not aspire to being a leader as much as learning to become a true follower.
The need at the moment isn’t so much better leaders, but stronger followers. Often we struggle with this, somehow we believe, we’ll become “second class” disciples if we submit to another’s vision or giftings. The way of true servanthood is difficult for many. But to be a real follower will often mean not to strive or assert, but to surrender. That’s the way of Jesus.
“Be desirous, my son, to do the will of another rather than thine own.”
That is an interesting place to find yourself. But that is the need of the moment. He must increase, become greater, and I must decrease, become lesser. There can be no room for personal aggrandizement.
We need people who know how to play second fiddle.
Young David stood and looked at Goliath face-to-face.
Physically there was hardly a comparison. Goliath was almost 10 feet tall, a warrior since birth–we read of his armor–he was like a human tank.
But David was just a pesky boy, nothing more. Goliath preened and strutted into the field of battle, and simple David was stepping up for his first try at hand-to-hand combat.
And then Goliath begins to blaspheme.
He boasts and mocks. In his mind he believes is superior, his arrogance knows no bounds. The center of the universe is the Philistine army, and he is their champion. He is contemptuous of everything else–physical or spiritual.
Goliath essentially is a ‘human’ wood chipper.
Everyone who has faced him has been destroyed. There have been no survivors to speak of. But I find David to be powerfully exceptional. His reaction to the ‘human mountain’ of Goliath was to run directly at him. This is an astonishing faith.
“As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground”.
1 Sam. 17:48
Many of us face a giant called guilt, pride, doubt or despair.
Satan (our enemy) has marched out on the field of battle, confident of his ultimate triumph over us. We’ve been rightly tutored that there are enemies that can destroy us. I suppose that should terrify us. And we’ve also been indoctrinated to accept their control, and the inevitable slavery, with a spirit of timidity.
The ‘monster’ of despair is real and brutal. Our destruction is inevitable in his mind. Satan does expect to win over your soul, but Jesus stands as our advocate shielding us. We are saved because He wants us saved.
Yet so many believers, cowed and intimidated, surrender to the boastings of the giant Despair. Hope, and faith are drained out of our being, and we become an empty spiritual shell. The “warfare” dimension gets nullified, and soon irrelevant. Despair reaches us and has the full intention of taking total control. It’s never satisfied with just a little bit.
David ran to the battle–to face his giant.
He passed through the dark intimidation and influence to approach Goliath. There was no passiveness or doubt to cloud his mind. David took a spiritually aggressive position, he took on the fear, and then ran directly at the giant Goliath. His spirit was untouchable.
As believers, we might struggle and pout. We can turn our hearts over to despair. We become available to the enemies workings. And the confidence we might have through faith is dissipated into doubt and confusion. But the victory we have in Christ allows us the liberty, through the Blood of Him who defeats our own Goliath of despair.
Many things seem to have risen up to block us. What we have to face is scary. It shakes us right down to our sandals. We see the ultimate intention of the enemies work. If we pass on Goliath, he will remain, and the Father’s plan becomes vulnerable.Sooner or later, he must be faced.
“Then Goliath, a Philistine champion from Gath, came out of the Philistine ranks to face the forces of Israel. He was over nine feet tall! He wore a bronze helmet, and his bronze coat of mail weighed 125 pounds. He also wore bronze leg armor, and he carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. The shaft of his spear was as heavy and thick as a weaver’s beam, tipped with an iron spearhead that weighed 15 pounds. His armor bearer walked ahead of him carrying a shield.”
“Goliath stood and shouted a taunt across to the Israelites. “Why are you all coming out to fight?” he called. “I am the Philistine champion, but you are only the servants of Saul. Choose one man to come down here and fight me! If he kills me, then we will be your slaves. But if I kill him, you will be our slaves! I defy the armies of Israel today! Send me a man who will fight me!” When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.”
1 Samuel 17:4-11, NLT
Things are such in Israel, that an active faith has no real significance. Men are going to die, many very quickly. Then up steps David, he is untried in battle, but within him is an eager commitment to a faith in Jehovah. Fear has consumed hearts and minds, which are now full of ‘scary goliath fears’ and confusion. They’re pretty much inconpacitated at this point. The Scripture says “they were terrified and deeply shaken.” This is an irrational fear.
David (the shepherd boy) steps out and into the confusion. He is resistant to the fear that attacks his brothers. He identifies the giant before him as evil, and stands in the way of the Father’s will. David advances without fear.
The space once occupied by fear has been filled up by faith.
This story, is much more than a story. It may entertain schoolchildren, but it is so much more for us as believers. Most definitely you will be called upon to face a Goliath of your own. He is waiting for you, and you must step forward in faith. If you want to negotiate this away. Don’t! You are already dead.
So much points to Goliath’s superiority. He is a man-of-war; a dedicated and trained source of death. Goliath equips himself to stand quite forcefully over you. He presses forward, confident that he will destroy you. But David steps out of the line. He is trusting in God alone. He steps forward with no armor (Saul’s didn’t fit).
Something is about to happen, something children will sing about, and people will always esteem. Some theologians call this a “power encounter” which is about to tumble down.
David is about to kill Goliath, with just a stone from his sling. He swings, throws and embeds a rock into the giants forehead– right between his eyes! The giant collapses, and David moves forward, and he cuts off the giants head. He uses Goliath’s own sword to do this. Brutal and bloody? Terribly so.
Each of us face a tall evil.
Things around us are not much different. Something that is monstrous and destructive. We cannot reason with it. We can only face it with the weapons the Father provides for us. When we advance to that source, we must do so with a faith that is real and undefeated.
Some reading this are pounded with depression and mental illness. I truly understand. But you’re called to advance on any personal darkness.
We must stand and take an aggressive posture against it. As mentally ill people, the battle (and the stigma) is more intense, but it is overwhelmingly defeated by our simple faith in God’s Son.
Simplicity is our key, and we will not advance with anything less. At times, we think that we can strategize our way to victory. We hope to rationalize our enemy away by thinking positively about him. We think we can move against him by being clever. That will not work. Our simple hearts must be laced with faith.
We need to step in to this, and then we will dance in the enemies jaws!
“David asked, “Is there no one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.”‘
2 Samuel 9:3, NIV
This crippled man was named Mephibosheth. He was injured by the actions of a nurse; she dropped him as she was trying to escape the palace (2 Sam. 4:4.) It was not of Mephibosheth’s doing, but someone else made a mistake, and it totally and irrevocably changed his life.
He would always be disabled.
If you haul out your old musty commentaries, you’ll find that Mephibosheth’s name means, “shame,” and I really believe that this would’ve been an integral part–maybe ‘subtle’ is a better word here, of how people treated him. But David was a different sort of king (as kings go), and he elevates Mephibosheth to the feasting-table. King David wants to include him!
Interesting. I believe that there are a great many people like Mephibosheth. They’ve been injured by someone else’s stumbling. It seems we pass these things on to each other. And the lameness we inflict may not be physical. It may be spiritual or emotional. Sometimes we injure without knowing what we have done to someone else.
Jesus made some powerful statements about people who injure others.
Some of the most vicious and evil wounding that are done are usually on a moral, or spiritual level. People can heal physically over time, but the wounds of the spirit are incredibly devastating. When someone harms us on this level it can completely undo us, for a lifetime. (And perhaps, maybe forever).
Jesus made some powerful statements about people who injure others. It is imperative that we evaluate ourselves; we may find that we are guilty of drastically hurting another’s faith or well-being, knowing that lasts for an eternity. Let’s take a second, and think this through.
We are capable of much evil. We affect others in ways we don’t understand. We need to seek God’s grace right now; we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of diminishing or minimizing what we have done. A vital point to consider: We cannot go on crippling others without injuring ourselves.
Wounded people wound. But healed people can very often become healers themselves.
We can read of King David’s truly majestic treatment of Mephibosheth in 2 Samuel 9. He actively blessed him, and perhaps that is the proactive action we ought to take. We must make the effort– to bless others.
As a king, this was a very minor incident. Hardly worth recording in the lofty affairs of state. But as a man–to restore Mephibosheth, was definitely one of his greatest decisions. Kindness, gentleness should always be a key part of someone who is in authority over others.
There’s another concept here– we discover something that is profoundly true about us in Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus. It’s here, in 1:5, we see that God our Father, acts like David, and receives Mephibosheth; just like God receives us to Himself. We find that we’re adopted, and loved, and held, and we get a prime place at the table!
We may use crutches, but we walk by faith. And that maybe the greatest lesson in this portion of scripture–and the most profound experience we can have as believers.
“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”