Posts Tagged ‘What Would Jesus Do?’

2 Samuel 18:1-18 (Part 2 of 4)
Absalom’s Defeat & Death

How would you like to have been in this guy’s shoes? You are a soldier. You find the leader of the enemy forces hung up in a tree, dangling there, with no way to get down. He would be easy pickings. Just kill him and the civil war would be over and you would get the accolades for having killed the leader of the revolt. However, in this case, the leader of the revolt was the son of the king. What would you do? You could kill him and nobody would know the difference. You could claim whatever you wanted to claim. You could kill him. Cut him down from the tree and then throw his body somewhere where the wild animals in the wilderness could tear him apart. You could claim that the wild animals killed him. You could get away with it and nobody would be the wiser. But instead, you tell your commander that you saw the king’s son dangling from a tree. Then, the commander questions you as to why you did not kill him. However, the commander, you and all the troops heard David say not to harm Absalom, his son. This was a bad situation to be in, a no-win situation. You did the right thing by not disobeying the king’s orders but you get shamed by your commander for not doing the deed. You know, too, that Joab would have thrown you under the bus if you had killed the king’s son. Talk about your no-win scenarios.

It kind of reminds you of the Starfleet Academy captain’s test. Yes, I am a Star Trek geek. It reminds you of the The Kobayashi Maru. The Kobayashi Maru exercise is a training exercise in the fictional Star Trek universe designed to test the character of Starfleet Academy cadets in a no-win scenario. The Kobayashi Maru test was first depicted in the opening scene of the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and also appears in the 2009 film Star Trek. Screenwriter Jack B. Sowards is credited with inventing the test. The test’s name is occasionally used among Star Trek fans or those familiar with the series to describe a no-win scenario, a test of one’s character or a solution that involves redefining the problem.

The notional primary goal of the exercise is to rescue the civilian vessel Kobayashi Maru in a simulated battle with the Klingons. The disabled ship is located in the Klingon Neutral Zone, and any Starfleet ship entering the zone would cause an interstellar border incident. The approaching cadet crew must decide whether to attempt rescue of the Kobayashi Maru crew – endangering their own ship and lives – or leave the Kobayashi Maru to certain destruction. If the cadet chooses to attempt rescue, the simulation is designed to guarantee that the cadet’s ship is destroyed with the loss of all crew members.

James T. Kirk took the test three times while at Starfleet Academy. Before his third attempt, Kirk surreptitiously reprogrammed the simulator so that it was possible to rescue the freighter. Despite having cheated, Kirk was awarded a commendation for “original thinking”. This fact is revealed in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, as Kirk, Saavik and others are marooned. Saavik accuses Kirk of never having faced the no-win scenario. Kirk replies that he does not believe in it.

Each of us have to face those ethical situations where doing the right thing may get you ridiculed or we do what Kirk did and basically bend the truth to suit our needs. Have you been in a situation like that? Do the right thing and get ridiculed, fired, or lose something or take advantage of a situation by bending the truth to meet your own needs! We have all been there at some point in our lives. If not, there will come a day where you have to make that tough choice.

Let’s read this passage, 2 Samuel 18:1-18, for the second of four times, and see how this soldier deals with the no-win situation.

Chapter 18

1 David now mustered the men who were with him and appointed generals and captains[a] to lead them. 2 He sent the troops out in three groups, placing one group under Joab, one under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and one under Ittai, the man from Gath. The king told his troops, “I am going out with you.”

3 But his men objected strongly. “You must not go,” they urged. “If we have to turn and run—and even if half of us die—it will make no difference to Absalom’s troops; they will be looking only for you. You are worth 10,000 of us,[b] and it is better that you stay here in the town and send help if we need it.”

4 “If you think that’s the best plan, I’ll do it,” the king answered. So he stood alongside the gate of the town as all the troops marched out in groups of hundreds and of thousands.

5 And the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom.” And all the troops heard the king give this order to his commanders.

6 So the battle began in the forest of Ephraim, 7 and the Israelite troops were beaten back by David’s men. There was a great slaughter that day, and 20,000 men laid down their lives. 8 The battle raged all across the countryside, and more men died because of the forest than were killed by the sword.

9 During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hair[c] got caught in the tree. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. 10 One of David’s men saw what had happened and told Joab, “I saw Absalom dangling from a great tree.”

11 “What?” Joab demanded. “You saw him there and didn’t kill him? I would have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver[d] and a hero’s belt!”

12 “I would not kill the king’s son for even a thousand pieces of silver,[e]” the man replied to Joab. “We all heard the king say to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake, please spare young Absalom.’ 13 And if I had betrayed the king by killing his son—and the king would certainly find out who did it—you yourself would be the first to abandon me.”

14 “Enough of this nonsense,” Joab said. Then he took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree. 15 Ten of Joab’s young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him.

16 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men returned from chasing the army of Israel. 17 They threw Absalom’s body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it. And all Israel fled to their homes.

18 During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom’s Monument to this day.

In this passage, we see that this man had caught Joab in his hypocrisy. He knew Joab would have turned on him for killing Absalom if the king had found out about it. Joab could answer the man and simply dismissed him. Those who are about to do evil often don’t pause to consider what they are about to do. They don’t care whether or not it is right or lawful. Don’t rush into action without thinking. Consider whether what you are about to do is right or wrong.

Often as Christ followers, we are presented with situations where we have the option to “be like Jesus” in private or revert to our base sinful self and take advantage of a situation. What are you like when you are alone? Are you striving to be like Jesus? Or when no one is around, do you revert to your sin-self. When no one is looking, what are you like? How far are you taking this Christ follower thing? Do you want to be like Jesus when you are alone? What are you like when no one is looking?

As Christ followers, you and I both know that we have opportunities everyday to demonstrate if we take being a Christ follower seriously. We all have those no-win scenarios at some point where being a Christ follower will be of disadvantage to us. We must choose the way of Jesus Christ or the way of the world. Probably, we all fail in these situations more often than we win. The key is I think to recognize when you get in those situations and ask that clichéd question, “What would Jesus do?” Not to be flippant, but really ask that question with a humble heart that is submitted to Jesus Christ. What would Jesus do in this situation. The key is recognition. Our base self is a sin filled dark soul that will default to evil without even thinking about it. Thus, recognizing when we are in a no-win situation and asking the question of ourselves every time when get into questionable situations will help us to gain a Christ-like perspective. Staying in God’s Word helps us internalize the difference between right and wrong in God’s eyes. Prayer about doing the right thing helps us to hear God’s voice about specific situations.

Then, what would Jesus do? is not a difficult question to answer. Our heart becomes molded toward pleasing God and not on what will preserve my rights in a sin-filled world. Pleasing God becomes more important that our position in the world. Pleasing God is what we want to do rather than have to do. Pleasing God rather than pleasing ourselves is our new perspective.

Amen and Amen.

Romans 12:15 — This verse sound like a pretty easy prescription for a good and healthy life doesn’t it? “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” In actuality, it is a little tougher than it sounds. Can you really dive deep into being joyful for those who are joyful and be mournful with those who mourn?

Rejoice with those who rejoice. Sounds simple enough. If I am married, I should rejoice at weddings. What if though, you’re marriage is falling apart? What if you are going through a divorce that you did not want? Man, rejoicing with your friend who is getting married is hard to do isn’t it? What if you and your wife have been trying to have a baby and you find out that you can’t have children? It is hard to rejoice with your neighbors who are pregnant with their third kid in four years. What if you are a pastor and your church is struggling but yet you see another pastor you know that has a church that seems everything they do just explodes with reaching new people? Can you rejoice with your fellow pastor? What if you are qualified and ready for that promotion but yet your co-worker is chosen over you? Can you rejoice with your co-worker? I could go on and on with this, but I think you are beginning to see the picture of the completeness of Paul’s command. He calls us not to simply rejoice when it is easy for us to rejoice. It is hard for us to rejoice with others when they have obtained something that we want but don’t have. We are called to rejoice and have true joy for others even when it makes us envious of their good fortune. It’s like patting your friend on the back when his favorite team has beaten your favorite team for the national championship. Many of us do not react with genuine joy for the good fortune of others. Many of us try to minimize the successes of others when we do not have that same success. Are you jealous of someone who seems to have it all right now at this moment? Paul calls us to rise above our selfishness and aspire to selflessness. Instead of viewing everything through our own lenses, see life from others’ perspectives.

It’s like FB Meyers story. He was a preacher along the same time as Charles Spurgeon. Meyer was a great preacher in his own right. However, he was just not as gifted a preacher as Spurgeon was. He was jealous of Spurgeon’s success. He watched Spurgeon’s church explode. He went to God in prayer about his jealousy. The result was that he prayed for Spurgeon’s success and that God would bring the overflow to his church. That took humility to swallow his jealousy and pray for the success of his rival. Ultimately, Meyer came to the knowledge that reaching souls for Christ was the bottom line and that each of us may be called to either lesser or greater roles in that. That’s humility. That’s keeping your eye on what’s really important. So, let it be said of us that in our Christian walk that we rejoiced with genuine joy for those who rejoice. Help our reaction to others speak of the joy we have in Christ. A humble heart who knows his value comes from the Lord can speak volumes of who Jesus Christ is.

Mourn with those who mourn. Again, this sounds pretty easy on the surface. Typically, we all can muster up sympathy for others who have suffered a loss. For example, we can typically be there for a family who has had a sudden death in their family. We can be there for the day of the death, the visitation, and the funeral. But can we be there for that family a year from now when they are still suffering from their loss. Can you be there for them later when it really matters. People can be greatly loving temporarily when the lights are bright. But can you be loving to that same family when they seem such a drag a year later. Can you be there for them when there is no advantage to you. Can you be there for them when they seem to be sucking the very life out of you. Can you be there for the friend who is going through an unwanted divorce and is just having great trouble coping with it for months on end? Can we really mourn with those who mourn? Can you hold your friends hand when you don’t have all the right answers or, as a matter of fact, you don’t have any good answers. Mourn for those who mourn. Let us be ones who get down in the mud with those who mourn. Help us to be in their lives when it is not convenient. Help us to be there when they call even when they seem to call too many times. Help us to be there when they call when you feel like screaming at them to get a life. Help us to be there when we don’t have any right answer. Help us to be there when we can’t fix it. Help us to be for the long haul. Help us to not abandon those who mourn because they make us feel uncomfortable. Help us to just be there. What could speak greater of the love of Jesus Christ than for us to truly mourn with those who mourn rather than just mourn for them. What could speak greater of Jesus love than to love those who mourn for weeks, months, years – even when there seems no end in sight. Help us, Lord, to mourn for those who suffer injustice, help us mourn for those who suffer loss, help us mourn for those who are inconvenient to us. Help us to really care and not just care when its comfortable.

Father, in heaven, Jesus said for us to be perfect as you are perfect. We can never be as perfect as you because of our sin nature. It is for that reason that we need Jesus. It is for that reason that we need the Holy Spirit living in us. It is for that reason that we need Your Word. Help us to continue to grow in our walk with you each and every day after salvation. Sometimes the things that you teach us are very hard to do in our selfish nature. Rejoicing and mourning for those who rejoice and those who mourn sounds simple enough. However, it can be truly difficult for us when its not convenient for our view of the world. Help us not to be so self-centered that we cannot rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Help us to really care about others even when its not convenient or when we do not get anything out of it ourselves. Help us to be humble enough to really care for others in true and meaningful ways that speak volumes about your glory and and your Son. Help us to remember the phrase, What would Jesus do. Amen.