A Leader’s Appropriate Anger

…he became very angry (1 Samuel 11:6).

Sometimes we think of godly leaders as always being cool, calm, and collected. But to remain calm when the situation calls for a vigorous response is unbecoming of the title of “godly” leader, and may even be a sin.

The Israelite city of Jabesh-Gilead had been surrounded by the forces of King Nahash. His terms of surrender to these Israelites was unduly harsh: “I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you as a disgrace to all Israel! (v. 2).

When this message got to King Saul, “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry.” He sent messengers to all of Israel demanding all the able-bodied men to come out to join his army in counter-attacking King Nahash.

Notice that what prompted Saul’s anger was God’s Spirit coming upon him. Since Israel was about to be disgraced, Saul had to act! Also notice this: “And the Lord made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one” (v. 7).

The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is apathy. God expresses strong emotions without sinning. When the Spirit of God made Saul angry at the oppression and potential disgrace of His people, Saul acted. To not act—to shrug his shoulders in apathy and say, “That’s not my problem”—would have been a sin.

Sometimes Christians want to suppress a strong feeling of hate or anger. But when God hates something or is angry at something, we would do well to pay attention to that and feel and act as God would have us act. The Bible tells us not to sin in our anger, but it never tells us not to be angry. 

Anything that is keeping someone from God’s love or God’s presence should arouse our righteous anger to do righteous things.

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows the right things to hate.

This is part 19 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

For Crying Out Loud!

There’s a time when David was fainting and had no one to help him—my spirit was overwhelmed and fainted, throwing all its weight on me. I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me (Psalm 142:3-4).

Here’s the backdrop to this prayer. King Saul has tried to kill David twice, not including the time Saul sent assassins to David’s house to kill him there. Even Jonathan, Saul’s son, was embarrassed and grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.

David runs away from Saul so quickly that he doesn’t take any food or even a weapon. He literally only has the clothes on his back and the sandals on his feet. He’s able to get some day-old bread from Ahimelech the priest, and he also takes Goliath’s sword from the temple.

David is clearly not thinking clearly. He is wearing Goliath’s sword on his side. Remember that David killed Goliath. Goliath is from Gath. And where does David run? To Gath!! He has to pretend he’s gone insane in order to escape from Gath, and he flees to the cave of Adullam.

It’s here that he prays an intense prayer. How intense? David literally shouts this prayer. He uses phrases like:

    • I cry aloud to the Lord
    • I lift up a thundering voice to God to plead for mercy
    • I let my complaint gush out in front of God, not holding anything back
    • He cries to God, “You are all I really want in life” and “You’re my last chance, my only hope for life”
    • After he did all that, he still says, “God, listen to my even louder cry!

Just how desperate is your situation? Just how heavy is your burden? Have you come to the realization that God is your ONLY help? Then, like David, cry out louder and louder to Him until He answers you!

A blind man got the attention of Jesus by yelling at the top of his lungs, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!!” Jesus said that this man’s faith healed him. What was the demonstration of his faith? It was the persistent calling out to the only One who could help him.

Earlier in this chapter, Jesus says this: So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for His chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t He stick up for them? I assure you, He will. He will not drag His feet. But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on the earth when He returns? (Luke 18:7-8).

Once again Jesus links a continual cry for help to the definition of persistent faith. 

So I’ll ask again: just how desperate are you for God to answer you? If you will cry out loud to Him, God will see your persistent faith and will step in and work for you.

Please join me on Sunday as we continue to learn more lessons from David’s prayers.

Help!

David and his men are on the run from King Saul, but they hear that the small town of Keilah is being harassed by the Philistines. The bad guys are stealing the harvest from the people of Keilah, making it a very real possibility that they would starve during the upcoming winter. In his usual habit, David prays and asks God if he should help the people of Keilah, and God gives him the go-ahead to attack.

David and his men defeat the Philistines, not only returning the crops that had been stolen but also delivering some livestock that they took from the defeated Philistines. You might expect that David and his men were given a ticker-tape parade. Instead, as soon as David was within the city’s walls, he finds out that the people of Keilah are planning to sell him out to King Saul. Talk about ingratitude!

David and his men flee to the Desert of Ziph, where they won’t be a bother to anyone. Except the Ziphites get word to King Saul that they will gladly turn him over to the King whenever he asks for it.

What is David’s response? As usual, it’s prayer. His prayer is short and straight to the point—

Help, Lord, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men.

In other words, David asks God, “Where have all the decent people gone?” It’s no different in our day, as Paul told his friend Timothy that people will only become more hypocritical liars, with their conscience not bothering them a bit!

What I love about David’s prayer is that he quotes God back to God. Check out the quotation mark: “Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise. I will protect them from those who malign them.” And then David is quick to add that God’s words never fail! 

I am convinced that our spiritual battles are largely lost or won in our minds. We need to recall God’s Word—Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail (Lamentation 3:21-22).

So we cry, “Help!” to God because He is the only One who can help us: The Lord is my Helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:6).

But David has an important question to ask: “How long do we continue to call for help?” Have you ever asked God that?

Jesus said that the key to our successful praying is for us to remain in Him and for His Words to remain in us, like a branch remains connected to the vine (John 15:7). So let me ask you a question: How long should the branch remain connected to the vine before it’s ready to go off on its own?

The answer is simple—if the branch wants to remain alive and fruitful, it must stay in relationship with the vine forever!

So once again, look at how Jesus answers the “How long?” question—Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking reverently and the door will be opened to you. (Matthew 7:7)

“Help!” is a great prayer that God loves to answer. “How long” do we pray that prayer? Until it’s answered … keep on, keep on, KEEP ON!

Thursdays With Oswald—Using The Sword For Good And Not Harm

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Using The Sword For Good And Not Harm

     The priest replied, “The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here.…” David said, “There is none like it; give it to me.” (1 Samuel 21:9)

     Now it seems quite obvious that if you are not David and are trying to use Goliath’s sword, you will do far more harm to yourself than damage to the enemy. You must be in the direct line of succession to David. … What is the same family connection in this dispensation? Why, those who are born again of the Spirit of God, and those who are so identified with the Lord Jesus that they have entered into the experience of entire sanctification. When they use the Word of God they do not damage themselves, nor hurt other souls; but they do great damage to the kingdom of the devil and bring benefit to the souls of men. …

    The Christian worker must rely on the Holy Spirit to direct them as to what to say in the case of every soul that comes. Do not rely on your memory, do not remember how you dealt with cases in the past, but recognize and rely on the Holy Spirit that He will bring to your remembrance the particular verse for you to apply at this time. … Beware of anything that does not fling you straight back in reliance on the Holy Spirit as the most practical factor you know in bringing it to your remembrance the Word of God and how to apply it. … 

     For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

     A remarkable thing about this Book of God is that for every type of human being we come across there is a distinct, clear line laid down here as to the way to apply God’s truth to it. 

From Workmen Of God

If Christians are going to help others, they have to start with helping themselves. They do this by immersing themselves in the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to show them how to live out the biblical principles. This equips us to help others.

Then when someone in need comes to us, don’t be too quick to draw your spiritual sword. Listen to them and listen to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God can direct you to the right Word of God for that person’s need. This is the only way to use the sword of the Spirit in a way that will help others, glorify God, and make you unashamed before God of your conduct.

How To Respond To Bad Pastors

God has ordained that His leaders oversee and administer His ministry. But problems arise in the church when humans change the “His” to “my.”

I read a statistic that 75% of people who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of a problem with their boss. In other words, 3-out-of-4 people didn’t quit their job, they quit their boss. In my personal experience this is equally as true in the church world—Most people don’t quit their church, they quit a bad pastor.

Sadly, those who do quit their church usually do so the wrong way. As a result they become either de-churched (they don’t attend anywhere), or cynical in the next church they do attend.

Who is a bad pastor?

  • One who is no longer effective because he is stuck in an old way of doing things
  • One who is theologically off
  • One who is unwilling to admit an error, ask forgiveness, and make amends
  • One who uses his position to build his kingdom instead of God’s kingdom

We have a great example of how to handle a bad spiritual leader in the story of David and Saul (see 1 Samuel 24). David had done nothing wrong, yet Saul was trying to kill him. At one point David’s men urged David to take matters into his own hands, and he almost did. He got close enough to Saul to cut off a corner of his robe, but quickly discovered that was too close. Immediately after doing so David was conscience-stricken!

Then look how David responded:

  • David rebuked his men as he reminded them that Saul was their “master” and “the Lord’s anointed.”
  • David “bowed down and prostrated himself” before Saul as he apologized.
  • David called him his “master,” “father,” and “the Lord’s anointed.”
  • David said he would leave the matter in God’s hands, allowing God to “judge between you and me.”
  • And twice David declared, “My hand will not touch you!”

This humble reply got Saul’s attention. Saul wept as he said, “You have treated me well, but I have treated you badly.” Saul then asked David to be kind to his descendants.

Then this conclusion—David gave Saul his oath, and then went away to a safe place.

The New Testament captures these same ideas for today’s Christians. We are told not to lightly entertain an accusation against spiritual leaders (1 Timothy 5:19), but to submit and obey to biblically-correct leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

The Bible gives us only two options for dealing with spiritual leaders…

SUBMIT & OBEY or WALK AWAY

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Responding in an unscriptural way to an unscriptural pastor’s way is just as wrong as what the pastor was doing wrong in the first place!

So give the bad pastor your oath that you will not lay a hand (or a word!) on them, and then remove yourself to a safe place. Submit and obey, or walk away and leave them in God’s capable hands.

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