Stopped in Transit
Read: 1 Samuel 25:1-13, 21-22, 32-35
This week, my husband and I ordered an item on-line. There were some initial glitches in the process, but I was confident that the wrinkles had been ironed out and that the delivery would proceed as it should. Amazingly, the package even arrived earlier than had been anticipated; so while my husband was unpacking the box, I glanced at the e-mail I had been using to track the item. When I clicked on the tracking number, a question began to float around in my mind. Why did the e-information indicate that the box was resting in Broomfield, Colorado while my husband was unpacking it right here in our home? After calling the credit card company, we knew what had occurred. Because of a mistake we hadn't foreseen, we had been scheduled to receive two of the items, and I had been tracking the one that had not yet arrived. There was only one thing to do. Stop the box that was in Colorado before it went any further, and that is what we chose to do. I'm thankful we caught the mistake before it became more difficult to fix.
Boxes aren't the only thing that can be stopped before they create difficulties. What about words and our actions? How important it is to stop our lips from speaking and our bodies from doing what isn't good. The Bible frequently challenges us to stop saying or doing what doesn't honor God, Ephesians 4:25-29. Let's look first at the words we can choose to stop before they escape from our lips.
James says that the tongue is small but very powerful, James 3:5. Think of what we can do with our words. We can speak God's praises and afterwards tear apart a person. James says that doesn't compute, James 3:9-11. He goes on to say that should be as unlikely as a spring pouring out both refreshing and undrinkable water. Wouldn't it be unseemly to take a big drink of what we thought was sweet cold water only to swallow a mouthful of brackish liquid instead? How often does the Holy Spirit warn us to stop our words before they leave our mouths so that those who hear might be built up rather than torn down, Ephesians 4:29?
No wonder Proverbs reminds us that when we talk a great deal, it is easy to sin, Proverbs 10:19. If we don't weigh our words and stop them before they become too numerous, it is easy to fall into gossip or break a confidence, Proverbs 26:20; Proverbs 20:19. Too many words can also cause a quarrel to escalate; therefore scripture warns us to stop speaking before this occurs, Proverbs 17:14. We are to also avoid foolish and stupid arguments. Instead we are challenged to deal with others patiently, rather than being quarrelsome, 2 Timothy 2:23-26. These verses challenge us to not only refrain from speaking unprofitable words but also to speak with gentleness and patience. Paul says to both Timothy and us that speaking like this might be what the Lord uses to open the door for others to receive Jesus' love.
Now it’s time to look at stopping actions that don't bring honor to the Lord and ultimately bring us pain. Although David's life gives us examples of both times he listened to the Lord and times he did not, for today, let's look at a time when David stopped a bad action before it brought more grief into his life. In 1 Samuel 25, we read about an incident that occurred while David was running from Saul. David had been providing for both himself and those who were with him as they hid in the wilderness and in caves. In this chapter we discover that David had been caring for sheep. When the time came for sheep shearing, David expected to receive remuneration for the work that he had done for a scoundrel named Nabal. This should have been what occurred. Instead, he received insults, and David reacted with anger. He made a plan to kill all the men in Nabal's household. How dare this man treat him with contempt.
Usually when I think of this incident, I love to look at Abigail, the one who interceded for her family by bringing both food and reminders of the promises of God. However, this time, I'd like to hone in on David. Why? Because he was humble enough to listen and stop his plan in its tracks. He allowed the words of truth that Abigail held out to him to calm his rage, and he changed his plan. Only God knows the grief he never had to bear because he set aside his plan to seek revenge and instead, did what was good, Psalm 37:7-8.
With the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we can stop unfruitful words and actions while they are still in transit.