It was a comedy of errors; proof of my fallen humanity and persistent depravity necessitating God’s prevailing grace. I am often frustrated by the fact that, after prayerfully and passionately preaching the Word of God, there are those who go and do exactly the opposite of what I have said. It is frustrating; and then I go and do the same.
Last Sunday I preached on I Samuel 16:1-13, the story of the anointing of David. I spoke about how Saul’s problem was that he had sought the praise of man rather than God, Saul’s heart was divided, and this led to his downfall and rejection as the king of Israel. I then shared how God had searched for a man whose heart was undivided, and that while Samuel was looking at the outward appearances of Jesse’s sons, God looked on the heart. (You can listen to the full sermon here: www.cmpres.com/sermons)
As an unscripted illustration of this message, I shared how just the day before, I had been working with a friend when a young man walked by. His pants were hanging low so that you could see his boxers, he wore a baggy tank top, and a black “do-rag” on his head. He walked with an air of defiance, and seemed annoyed when we said “hello.” After the young man had walked on a ways, I turned to my friend and asked, “what will you do when he shows up to date your daughter?” His reply was, “what will you do?” I shared then that I had fallen into the trap that snares us all, judging someone by their outward appearances, without ever considering their heart. What’s worse, I had just finished my sermon the day before, the text was fresh in my mind, but it hadn’t affected my heart. Strike One.
I thought the story effectively illustrated the message, and was feeling rather proud of myself after the service. When I saw my friend’s wife, who had been working in the nursery, I thought I’d impress her with my wit and eloquence. I told her how I talked about the conversation her husband and I shared to drive in my message. I laughed at my own brilliance, and walked away smug with self-congratulations. But later that afternoon, I was directed to her Facebook page, where she expressed her frustration and defended her husband as a wonderful and kind person. Knowing that I was the one who precipitated her post, I then had to call and seek her forgiveness.
I had fallen like Saul, into the desperate need to hear the praise of man rather than the praise of God. In less than 30 minutes after my sermon, I had become living proof of a divided heart. I craved glory, my pride wanted polished. I robbed glory from God. Strike Two.
In Psalm 86:11, David offers a prayer that will become my prayer for quite some time, and if your heart is divided, perhaps you will pray it with me. “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”