Tuesday, May 24, 2011

where credit is due

But Saul said, "Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has worked salvation in Israel."
1 Samuel 11:13

Saul's first military engagement as king of Israel is a roaring success as it is blessed by God. When the Ammonites threaten the citizens of Jabesh-gilead, Saul sends a request for troops throughout the land and 330,000 men respond to the call. Saul devises a military strategy to fight Ammon and God blesses the efforts. The Ammonites are defeated, and Saul's prestige among the people begins to take root. His kingdom really is established in the victory of this battle.

After the battle, Saul's victorious army wants to punish those who ever doubted Saul's ability to lead. But this is not a time to vindicate a man. It is a time to celebrate what God had done. And Saul wisely lets God get the glory for the deliverance on that day. Had he chosen to use this chance to go after his political naysayers, he would have began his reign in tyranny. Instead, Saul focuses on God. And this worship of God after the battle kept Israel focused on the better spiritual results of the kingdom.

It is refreshing to see Saul give God the credit that is due Him. He knew the Lord had won the battle. He is really humble early in his story. When news of the Ammonite threat reaches him, Saul is not sitting in a tent or a kingly palace. He is out plowing a field with a yoke of oxen! He was the farm boy king. His first response was to surrender this situation to God. He immediately takes the very oxen he was plowing with to an altar and sacrifices them. He knows that God must be in this endeavor. God certainly blessed that devotion. That is why Saul could not take credit for what God had done in him.

I want to live a life that points toward God. My self wants recognition, achievement, and credit. And the church can be a subtly sinister place of selfishness with its leaders. I see it with pastors and teachers who put more emphasis on the size of the church in their resume, than the service to the church that God requires of them. It is all about books they write, and then it might be books about them. It out to be about the Book they are humbly preaching. It is a shift towards taking some of the credit. That will lead toward a false focus. Then it is about Christian celebrity. But that is not the leadership example left by Saul in this passage. It would do me good to remember than when I start thinking of my life in terms of achievement or self-promotion. God gets the worship and the credit and the praise!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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