Old Testament passage for Thursday, May 23, 2013: II Samuel 2:12-3:39
And I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too harsh for me. II Samuel 3:39 (NKJV)
David was blessed to have many mighty men around him. The lists are inspiring (see I Chronicles 12:23-40, II Samuel 23:8-23, and I Chronicles 11:10-25). We read of amazing feats done by heroic and courageous men who pledged their service to King David.
At least three of them, however, proved to be DIFFICULT PEOPLE. They were the sons of David's older sister, Zeruiah. They were mighty warriors, but they were also hard men to deal with. This is an interesting phenomenon. Every group, every congregation, has them. Great people who cause big problems. Author Marshall Shelley calls them Well-Intentioned Dragons. Joyce Landorf called the Irregular People.
Every group has people who are EXTRA GRACE REQUIRED. For short, we call them EGR.
God places people in your life who are there to test you and improve you. Sometimes, like in the case of David, they are family members. In many cases, they start out loving you, but somewhere along the line things get off track. Stuart Briscoe says of pastors, "You must have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of a rhinoceros." I think this applies not only to pastors, but to all of us.
For David, they were brothers -- Joab, Abishai, and Asahel -- who never could back down from a fight. They had to win. This "bulldog attitude" can be acceptable in the right context, but they did not know how to dial it back. As a result, Asahel gets killed. Then Joab cannot rest until he gets vengeance. It becomes an unnecessary blood-bath.
One of the cardinal rules of keeping relationships clean is DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. When we allow the battle to become a personal vendetta, we can be assured the devil is close behind. Joab lost objectivity and could only see a personal grudge that laid heavy in his heart.
Here are a few ideas about how to handle your EGR's.
1. Keep your eyes on Jesus. If you focus on what they are doing, it can look worse and worse. Back up and walk in the grace of God.
2. Don't take it personally. I've already said this, but it is so important. It's also hard, when the injury truly affects you. The answer is to pass it on to the Lord. Let Him carry it.
3. Ask questions before you respond. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding in the first place. Communication can help bring peace.
4. Separate the issue from the person. EGR's need to be loved and understood, not judged too quickly. Try to remain objective.
5. Be strong. Remember the important principle: the strong one makes the peace. God has probably allowed the situation to build strength in you.
6. Pray --- Hard! When words are flying, people usually stop praying. Bad move! Get God back on board as quickly as you can.
7. Forgive. Nothing stops the bleeding like simple forgiveness. This takes the grace of God. Jesus is the source, not some "sweep-it-under-the-rug" nonchalance. Press into Jesus for the power of His blood.
Question: How do you handle EGR's in your life?