Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Secret of Greatness

"Your gentleness has made me great" Psalm 18:35.

Viewing David's life, his ascension from shepherd to King of Israel, it is easy to ascribe his success to any number of things.

David was fearless taking on opponents to his flock and his nation. He was loyal to the point of never betraying or harming a king bent on hunting him down to destroy him. He was faithful to God in good and bad times. He was the man after God's own heart.

On the other hand, David had issues. He was a flawed character. His parenting skills were less than impressive; his home was in constant uproar with out of control kids. He was an adulterer who murdered his lover's husband in an attempt to cover his sin. Told never to number the people, his census brought disaster to the nation plus a very painful remedy. Still, despite all his failings, David is held in the highest regard.

Throughout God's dealings with him, it was the gentleness of his Lord that David says made him great.

David experienced God's correction and discipline. God didn't let him off the hook when he erred. David's seemingly private affair was made very public when the king was confronted by Nathan the prophet. Would David admit is sin or use his royal power to cover it up and sweep it under the rug?

David reflected upon this and other times the Lord dealt with him not as punitive or harsh but as gentleness. These shaped his character and caused him to excel.

The Apostle Paul came to this same conclusion.

"or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?" Rom. 2:4.

Paul's audience was the church at Rome, for the most part a congregation of former pagan Gentiles. Fortunately this group hadn't been steeped in the legalism of the Law with all its do's and don'ts. However they too had their religious baggage to overcome including the worship of an emperor who claimed to be god and who wasn't known for extending mercy to those who believed otherwise.

Paul stated authoritatively that God's kindness is what motivates us to change our thinking. As Saul of Tarsus Paul, according to Jesus, persecuted Him personally. That's how the Son of God interpreted Saul's actions. Knocked to the ground and temporarily blinded got hard charging Saul's immediate attention. Rather than eradicating the opposition (a popular Christian viewpoint) God shook up Saul to get his attention. Reflecting back, Paul recognized that is was the kindness of God that changed a repentant Saul of Tarsus in the Apostle Paul.

God's gentleness is the key to our greatness. Notice David didn't say "success," at least not in the terms we're familiar with today. Greatness had to do with personal growth and character not impression achievements like victory in battle and kingship. Gentleness allowed David's inner man to develop and grow large enough to embrace the ever expanding revelation of his great God and their progressively deepening relationship.

God's kindness was the pivot that turned Saul into Paul. Instantly realizing he was on the wrong side, Saul recognized that God's olive branch (and not a beating or worse) was the wise way to go. God's mercy and love overwhelmed Saul into submission and transformed him.

How about you? If you were in Saul's sandals on the Damascus road how would you have reacted to God's rude interruption of your life? As a believer, do you think Saul got off too easy? Looking at David's life, where do you see God's gentleness making David a great man? In your own life would you prefer kindness and gentleness or something more severe?