This year I’ve worked really hard to examine my actions and my values. Did the one give support and evidence to the other? What guiding principles would help me to support those values? It’s not always so clear. It’s even harder, especially in storms under stress, if you don’t have a plan of action.
Sheba was a known troublemaker. He didn’t work for peace or unity. He passionately moved others to follow his example.
There happened to be a troublemaker there named Sheba son of Bicri, a man from the tribe of Benjamin. Sheba blew a ram’s horn and began to chant:
“Down with the dynasty of David!
We have no interest in the son of Jesse.
Come on, you men of Israel,
back to your homes!”
2 So all the men of Israel deserted David and followed Sheba son of Bicri. But the men of Judah stayed with their king and escorted him from the Jordan River to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 20:1-2, NLT)
Do I follow the crowd? Do the people in my feeds and in my life lead me closer to the values I want to stand for, or do they lead me away? How do these influencers affect my heart and my choices?
If I’m clear on my values, my purpose, my goal, then perhaps I can save myself collateral damage from passions or impulses.
16 But a wise woman in the town called out to Joab, “Listen to me, Joab. Come over here so I can talk to you.” 17 As he approached, the woman asked, “Are you Joab?”
“I am,” he replied.
So she said, “Listen carefully to your servant.”
“I’m listening,” he said.
18 Then she continued, “There used to be a saying, ‘If you want to settle an argument, ask advice at the town of Abel.’ 19 I am one who is peace loving and faithful in Israel. But you are destroying an important town in Israel. Why do you want to devour what belongs to the Lord?”
20 And Joab replied, “Believe me, I don’t want to devour or destroy your town! 21 That’s not my purpose. All I want is a man named Sheba son of Bicri from the hill country of Ephraim, who has revolted against King David. If you hand over this one man to me, I will leave the town in peace.”
“All right,” the woman replied, “we will throw his head over the wall to you.” 22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the ram’s horn and called his troops back from the attack. They all returned to their homes, and Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 20:16-22, NLT, emphasis added)
Sheba was a known troublemaker. But this woman of influence is only referenced as wise–and she knows herself as peace loving and faithful. Both she and Sheba have and live by their values, and both will bear fruit (results) by their choices.
But what got me most in today’s readings was the image of Tyre, like a grand and beautiful ship–known, prosperous, elegant, thriving. The reading of it gets better and grander as I follow–with so much going for it, what could go wrong?
26 “But look! Your oarsmen
have taken you into stormy seas!
A mighty eastern gale
has wrecked you in the heart of the sea!
27 Everything is lost—
your riches and wares,
your sailors and pilots,
your ship builders, merchants, and warriors.
On the day of your ruin,
everyone on board sinks into the depths of the sea. (Ezekiel 27:26-27, NLT)
Your oarsmen have taken you into stormy seas. It’s important to be aware of what influences me. Is it leading me on a fruitful path or taking me to destruction? Do my friendships really lead me closer to my goals and values? Do my thoughts really support what I value? Do my actions bear good fruit or bad fruit? Are my oarsmen leading me into stormy seas? Be aware.
Paul really wanted to influence the Corinthians for the better. Do I have friends like that–who speak truth, hope, encouragement into my life? If they saw me headed into stormy waters, would stand by and watch me go? Would they be like the oarsmen and hasten my fall? Or would they reason with me because they value the destiny of my heart over their own comfort?
5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 6 As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority.
7 We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. 8 For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. 9 We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature. (2 Corinthians 13:5-9, NLT)
Lord, you send me a brother in Paul through the pages of your word.
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11, NLT)
Father God, I pray to be discerning in my influences–those people and things that feed my thoughts–because I am an influencer too in my home. Help me to get clear on how to support the things I value.