When We Seek Honor

1 Samuel 15

The Amalekites were cruel to the Israelites when the Israelites passed by their territory on their way out from Egypt. This was at the time of Moses. But remember that to God, a hundred days is as one day, and in His eternity, the transgression of the Amalekites happened only yesterday.

Samuel recites to Agag the sin of his fathers, “You have snatched children from their mother’s arms and killed them” (v 33). Why Saul spared King Agag when God commanded him to annihilate every man, woman, child, and animal among the Amalekites is a mystery. The Bible says that the Lord told Samuel, “Saul has stopped obeying me, and I’m sorry that I made him king.”

Saul was beginning to have a taste of glory and he was reveling in it. “[He] went to Carmel where he had a monument built so everyone would remember his victory,” (v 12).
After Saul’s 210,000 troops conquered the Amalekites, the valuable sheep and cattle they looted and left alive to sacrifice to God did not please God at all. After all, these were blood-acquisitions. How could anything won by sheer murder of the innocents be pure in God’s sight? God wanted everything destroyed; everything was worthless and tainted in His eyes. All have sinned. Everybody was guilty by virtue of their ancestor’s acts of cruelty. Indeed the sins of the Amalekite fathers had been passed on to the next generation.

Saul turns out to be a deeply flawed man, who craved for recognition. It turns out that he wanted to please his men (v 24). But first, he rationalized his actions and belittled his act of disobedience. His pride won’t let him accept that indeed, he committed a serious act of rebellion against God.

What were his intentions? Did he really want to sacrifice the best animals? Or was that a second thought because he was pressed against the wall by Samuel’s accusations? “Tell me,” said Samuel, “Does the Lord really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey Him. Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshipping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you, so God has decided that you can’t be king.”

Once Samuel had declared him persona-non-grata, Saul’s main request was for Samuel to honor him before the leaders of the army and the people of Israel. Saul, who, before he became King, felt little, still felt insecure even while he was King, and this insecurity never left him until the day he died. He remained so in spite of God’s anointing: “You may not think you’re very important but the LORD chose you to be king, and you are in charge of the tribes of Israel.” God placed a heavy trust upon this man who never thought himself important. But Saul wasn’t able to see his value in God’s eyes. Instead, he sought value and approval from the eyes of the people. In doing so, he lost his anointing.

God sees our worth even if we think we are worthless. He puts us in positions of His trust, even if we think we aren’t capable of delivering His assignments. He gives us honor even if we don’t seek it. We sin when we crave to be recognized through acts of patronage to gain people’s acceptance and approval. Often times, we can be truly unpopular, but if we are sure about God’s appraisal, our actions toward goodness and benevolence should be motivated only by love of God and obedience to his will.

Malusog ang Sikat ng Araw sa Ika-walo ng Umaga

Binabalak kong maging payak
Iiwasan ang paglalakad nang may kung anu-anong tinitingnan
Marami ang pulubing nagsasayaw sa lansangan
Paroo’t parito ang namimili sa tindahan
Walang tahimik na pahingahan
Hindi malapitan ang simbahan
Napakatagal ng katarungan.

Susubukan kong maging payak
Malusog ang sikat ng araw sa ika-walo ng umaga
Ito lamang ang gagawin – maglalakad, maglalakad
Paakyat sa bangketang papunta sa noon ay burol ngayo’y paaralan
Walang reklamong nilalanghap
Ang buga ng usok mula sa mga sasakyan
Kasabay ng mga walang-muwang
Walang hinahabol, walang binabantayan
Payak ang paghingal.

Tutuparin ko ang pagiging payak
Isang tunguhin lang sa bawat pag-alis ng bahay
At pagdating doon ay babalik lamang
Hindi na lilingon hindi na sisinsay hindi mag-aalam
Ng mga pighati
Maliban na lamang kung sa ‘king paglabas
Di man lang masilaw
Pagkat walang araw.

Jophen Baui/ Enero 8, 2010

Heaven

“Jesus said to his Disciples, ‘Don’t be worried. Have faith in God and have faith in me. There are many rooms in my father’s house. I wouldn’t tell you this, unless it was true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I have done this, I will come back and take you with me. Then we will be together. You know the way to where I am going.” John 14: 1-4

We know the way – Jesus is the way – Jesus is the way to heaven – Jesus is the way to the Father. We know, but we’re not yet in heaven. Jesus will have to come back and take us with him. Our knowledge prepares us for heaven – makes us study and learn and live the ways of heaven here on earth until Jesus comes back and takes us. Regularly, we remember in church that Jesus is coming again – in the Holy Communion of Saints.

Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t even know where you are going, how can we know the way?” The answer is that if we know the way, then we know where we are going. If we believe that Jesus is the way, and follow the way, then we know we’re going to heaven – to occupy the rooms being prepared for us. Knowing illuminates our destination. Knowing shows us a path – points us the direction. So we walk the way – Jesus – to heaven, and we are held on our way while we keep ‘joined’ with Jesus.

Why do we stray then if we already know the way? Christians call this backsliding – literally going back, but not unintentionally; sliding back to a previous way – that is. This happens because we take heaven for granted.  At least at the moment, we think that heaven is still an abstract concept (up there), and we like to refer to it as “sa kabilang buhay,” without actually believing in a life beyond. This is simply an expression for many.  Most of us can’t grasp the truth that all of us have eternal destiny – heaven or hell – or we don’t value eternity. At least at the moment, life is all there is to us, life that we can touch and see and feel and hear and smell. Heaven is a reality beyond, difficult to grasp, like air itself. We don’t crave for heaven, or we think we don’t. Our flesh craves for the enjoyment this world offers. But the things we most wish for are stuff that only heaven can give – deep joy, lasting peace, true love, and concrete happiness. Yet we insist on living at the moment, mistaking the world’s panaceas as heaven itself. We think we have joy but it doesn’t last. Peace is not at all attainable. True love is mostly the stuff of fiction. Happiness runs out of motivation.

When Jesus comes back and takes us, would he find us where we should be? Would we have moved on closer towards our destination? Or would he arrive and for a moment strain his neck looking for us, since we got lost somehow and would not be found? How far would we have strayed that there wouldn’t be enough time to go back?

Jesus is the way – the ONLY WAY wants us to keep walking THIS WAY – because he will come back and take us. When he comes, we should be where we should be, or we will miss heaven. The alternative destination should never be an option.

Portrait of the Damned

God’s spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled.” Galatians 5:22-23

Portrait of the Damned

The face is glum as always

Drawn lonely drooping lines

On sides of lips convey besottedness

To things unhappy such as pain.

Each day a blot of black on blue

And bluer still it goes,

“Hello to hatred unresolved.”

The perfect host

Hugging fears the moment they approach.

Why! complaining is a truer friend,

Praise, the unwelcome stranger.

Sleek patronage in honesty’s proud name

Dances with all liars

And woe to happy, loving, good…

They can’t be real.

(JCB, October 1, 2009)