Bread – Unapproachable

July 21, 2015


Readings for Tuesday, July 21, 2015, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: 1 Sam. 25:1-22; Acts 14:1-18; Mark 4:21-34; Psalms 45,47,48

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In our reading today from Samuel, David has reached out to a wealthy man called Nabal and asked for a festival gift to David and his men because David and his men have kept Nabal’s men safe and Nabal’s assets protected. Sort of a “I’ve been nice to you, even though I didn’t have to be, so why don’t you be nice to me.” Nabal responds by saying “No” in a very offensive way, stating that he does not know David and, besides, “there are many servants these days who are breaking away from their masters,” suggesting that David is nothing but a scoundrel.

David’s reaction is to “mount up” with 400 men and swords and teach Nabal (which, by the way, means “foolish”) a lesson in manners.

But in this story, what stands out to me is what Nabal’s servant says to Nabal’s wife about these events. He says “… for harm is determined against our master [Nabal] and against all his house, and he [Nabal] is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.” 1 Sam. 25:17

“He [Nabal] is such a worthless man that one cannot speak to him.”

Nabal is a man with wealth, many possessions, many servants, and the pride to go with it. He is a snob of the first order. And his staff have absolutely no respect for him because “one cannot speak to him.”

And the fact that Nabal cannot be informed or corrected by others makes him “worthless” in the circumstances. Even though he has a position of wealth, power, influence, and leadership, he is worthless in the circumstances because he will not listen to anyone except himself.

In our daily grind, how often are we so full of our anger, our purposes, our pride, our selfishness, our own goals and objectives, our own self-righteousness that we will not listen to anyone, that we cannot be informed of the truth, be imparted wisdom, or be helped in any manner. This attitude makes us worthless. It makes us worthless to God’s purpose for us, it makes us worthless to the people who rely upon us, it makes us worthless to being able to effectively engage the situation, and it essentially makes us worthless to ourselves, because all we have is an echo chamber for our ideas, where what I say bounces back to me as good advice. Notice that this overarching pride does not make me worth nothing, it just makes me worth less.

What do we do which makes us unapproachable, unteachable, uncommunicative, and ultimately unable? We feed our pride.

When we admit we could be wrong so that we are ready, willing, and able to listen and hear, are we any less right? When we never admit we are wrong and have no ear for disagreeable information or advice, does that make us any less wrong?

What Nabal did to David we do to God all the time. When God has a word of revelation for us through His Holy Spirit which we do not want to hear, we raise up the wall of unapproachability, content to surround ourselves with the walls of self-delusion. When God wants to speak to us in prayer, we make ourselves unavailable by just not praying. When God asks us for something which we do not want to give, we pretend we don’t hear Him or, even worse, deny that we even know who He is.

But as Christians there is one thing we know, and that is that while we were unapproachable, steeped in sin, God approached us and saved us. While we insulted God, God forgave us.

But other people are not God, and we have the ability to make ourselves unapproachable as far as they are concerned. In so doing, we make ourselves worthless.

When we have Jesus there is no need for the wall of self-preservation. When we have been preserved for all eternity by God’s sovereign act, what wall of protection from the world do we need?

Are we unapproachable? If so, what are we afraid of and why?

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© 2015 GBF

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