Read: 1 Samuel 24:1-7; 1 Samuel 26:6-11; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:1-11
A few days ago, my husband and I were doing spring trimming and clean-up in the yard, and we were working in the lilac bushes. It is such a blessing to have both the pink and purple ones blooming. So frequently, the buds get frozen before the flowers can bloom. Not this year. Thank You Lord. It was while working that I discovered something unexpected. Nestled in the branches of one of the bushes was a large dead limb. It wasn't a broken off lilac branch; rather, it was a large pine limb that had somehow made its way into the lilac bush. One thing is surely true. Pine branches don't belong in lilac bushes; so, we worked to dislodge that intruder from where it had been pressing on the lilac's branches. The beauty and vigor of the bush was enhanced by getting rid of it. Plants have enough of their own little struggles without having to contend with "intruders" that come at them from the outside.
Isn't that also true in our lives? We who love Jesus surely have inward battles. Our personal flesh patterns that long to rear their ugly heads and the evil one who often tries to turn our attention back to those old patterns. If that weren't enough, we have the pull of the world. That thinking that comes from others who encourage us to do the things that are no longer part of who we are in Jesus. Their thinking is like a dead pine branch that has intruded into the beauty of a living blooming bush. Let's look at David and how this kind of thinking was presented to him as a good thing.
In both 1 Samuel 24 and 1 Samuel 26, we meet David as he was on the run. Although David had been anointed as the next king of Israel, the reigning king, Saul was doing all he could to thwart the known will of God. So, because Saul had tried to murder David on more than one occasion, David was on the run. Twice in chapters 24 and 26 of 1 Samuel, David could have taken down Saul. Twice in these chapters, those who were with David urged that he allow them to kill Saul. They even told David that this was God's timing and God's plan for him. It was time to strike when the iron was hot. David's reaction? He stated that it was not God's will to end the life of the king that the Lord had anointed. David knew that Saul's death would occur through the means God would allow. Yet, it would not be his hands or the hands of the men who accompanied him that would end Saul's life. David was not swayed by the pressure that came at him from the outside. Why? For one thing, David feared God and was content with his timing. These two incidents are times when David didn't permit worldly thinking to influence him.
Like David, we are frequently presented with outside sources that tempt us to choose man's path rather than the Lord's. No wonder, Paul clearly tells us in Romans 12:2 not to be conformed to the world's way of thinking. That begs the question. How do we know worldly thinking? The rest of the verse from Romans 12 tells us. Knowing the difference between worldly and Godly thinking comes through reading the Bible and applying God's words to our every-day lives. May I share a story from many years back?
Some of my family members and I had gone to a wedding. We were staying at a hotel, and after the long ride, my niece who was about twelve years old and I, longed for a dip in the hotel's outside pool. It would be so refreshing. However, there was a problem. The pool was closed. My niece thought we could probably go in anyway. Honesty dictates that I admit that I really wanted to do it. However, in this case, I remembered that it would have been wrong to violate the hotel's rules, and in addition to that, doing so would have been a bad influence on my niece. Disobeying the rule would have showed a lack of respect. Not a God-honoring quality. Therefore, we did what was right.
Why? Because I knew that obeying the hotel's stated rules was pleasing to God. The very thing Ephesians 5:10 challenges us to do. In small matters and great ones, we are to find out what pleases God. Then we should act upon His Word, James 1:22-26. When we learn what God says about Himself and His love for us, as well as what honors Him, we will begin to see when worldly thinking has begun to sneak into our minds.
Ephesians 5 shows us a contrast. We used to be part of the kingdom of darkness, but now we are part of God's kingdom of light. No matter who tries to tempt us with actions that are part of our used-to-be life, the Lord calls us to live to honor Him, rather than living to please man. Because we are beloved children, Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us to imitate God's love through our lives. No, we don't do this perfectly; however, as we renew our minds with God's truths the thinking of the world will be replaced by The Lord's ways. More and more, we will throw off the influence of the world like an unwanted dead branch. With each Godly choice, the beauty of Jesus will be seen replacing the world's way of thinking. We will change from glory to glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18.