July 29, 2015

Passing it on and yet pressing on

2 Samuel 20:1–21:22, 2 Peter 3:14–18, Psalm 146:1–10

Yesterday I was asked to mentor high school students. My first thought was that there is too large a gap between them and me, not just the age difference, but in the way we think. For instance, I would rather talk than text, rarely use social media, and my favorite music would raise their eyebrows. The main thing we would have in common is that as Christians, we both war with the same spiritual enemies.

That request prompted a different perspective to today’s OT reading than I might have had. It reminded me of how God wants us older people to pass the torch. In yet another war between the Philistines and Israel, David went down with his army. They fought together against the Philistines, but David grew weary.

I know the feeling. For the past couple of days, I’ve felt like ‘retiring’ from this business of being a Christian.  Figuring out the will of God so I can serve Him seems like too much work. I’m getting weary.

However, in the reading God didn’t tell David to press on as I may have expected. Instead, He used the men David had trained to do the fighting for him. When one of the descendants of the giants (like Goliath) thought to kill David, “Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and attacked the Philistine and killed him.” Then David’s men swore to him, “You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.” It was okay for David to take a break. He did not have to keep on.

But that didn’t stop the enemy. After this there was again war with the Philistines at Gob. A warrior named Sibbecai struck down another descendant of the giants. Then Elhanan from Bethlehem struck down Goliath the Gittite. The war went to Gath where another huge man also descended from the giants began to taunt Israel. Jonathan the son of Shimei, David’s brother, struck him down. These gigantic enemies fell by the hand of David’s men, people he had trained. (2 Samuel 21:15–22)

The Word of God stresses the importance of mentoring the next generation. Not only do they need to be equipped to deal with attacks against their spiritual lives, but also encouraged to obey God. So do I need that kind of encouragement. Peter gives the reason why and exhorts me to always keep growing . . .

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17–18)

No matter how weary I am, obedience and continuing to grow spiritually are still important.

The reading from the psalms stresses an important perspective when I feel too tired to go on; some of the verses point to the eternal aspect of following Christ. That is, this does not end. There is no retirement for Christians, no permission to disobey or to stop growing in my faith. That is reserved for matters of this world, not eternal matters.

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever.” (Psalm 146:3–6)

The average person makes plans, yet death ends all that. However, those who worship God know that life goes on forever with Him. I am bound to the Living God for eternity. Whatever I do in this life in obedience to Him will last, not go to a grave and stay there. This is motivation . . . even though I am still very weary.

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