REPOST Today’s Devotional, first posted on April 23, 2015, is provided by Pastor Jason Sato who, along with his wife Jessica and three young children, serves in Japan as an AMI missionary. Please pray for them as they are getting to ready to plant a new church (English speaking).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
2 Samuel 3:26-29 (ESV)
When Joab came out from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah. But David did not know about it.  And when Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him privately, and there he struck him in the stomach, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.  Afterward, when David heard of it, he said, “I and my kingdom are forever guiltless before the LORD for the blood of Abner the son of Ner.  May it fall upon the head of Joab and upon all his father’s house, and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge or who is leprous or who holds a spindle or who falls by the sword or who lacks bread!”
During a mission trip, I met a young man who had traveled to Southeast Asia to do humanitarian work. While he was doing some good, he cut corners, made some immoral decisions, and had a poor working relationship with the local government. Perhaps, he felt like the ends justified the means.
At times, we all feel like we have to take matters into our own hands. But when things are up to us and God is not part of the equation, we can find ourselves in a morally questionable position.
In our passage this morning, David is still waiting to take his rightful place as king of Israel. While David is concerned about his integrity before God, those around him are busy trying to control the unfolding of events.
Abner is the military commander of Ish-bosheth, David’s rival. He had been taking advantage of the conflict between David and Ish-bosheth and was accumulating power. When challenged by Ish-bosheth, Abner switches allegiances and supports David. Motivated by a desire for power and position, Abner gives little thought to the honor of God even when he does the right thing and supports God’s chosen king.
Joab, David’s military commander, is motivated by a more noble cause. His desire is to avenge the death of his brother Asahel. Joab feels the need to personally ensure that “justice” is done, and he is willing to commit murder in order to do so. Neither Abner nor Joab is concerned about holiness. Sin is justified as long as it serves a “greater purpose.”
As the rightful king, David has the most at stake in how the events unfold. He must have had many opportunities to involve himself in intrigue and strategies, but instead, contented himself with waiting on the Lord. This trust in God freed David to focus entirely on honoring and obeying Him. David knew that when he became king, he wanted to do so with a clear conscience.
While we are wise to plan ahead and to consider the larger goals of our lives, we cannot afford to minimize the importance of honoring the Lord, especially when things appear to be out of control. Let us, therefore, strive to be people of integrity.
Prayer: Lord, help me to honor You today! My mind so easily dwells on the career I’m establishing or the goals I have for my life. Don’t let me neglect faithfulness to the people and to the tasks that You have set before me today. Help me not to give in to fear or a need for control. May my actions, words, and thoughts be pleasing to You.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 16
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Timothy 3:8-10 (ESV): Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.  They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.  And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless.
Question to Consider
- When the apostle Paul lists the qualifications for a deacon, which qualities refer to character?
- Verse 9 refers to having a clear conscience. How does integrity relate to having a clear conscience?
- According to verse 10, what is the true test of character?
- All of them. Above all else, a deacon is to have integrity in word and deed.
- Someone whose words and actions are consistent has nothing to hide. Thus a Christian leader does not have to be perfect, but they do have to be honest about their faults and consistent in living out their convictions.
- Time is the true test. One’s character will inevitably be revealed over the course of time.
Take a moment to reflect upon your day. Was holiness before God a conscious priority? Were you ever tempted to think that “the ends justify the means”? Ask the Lord to purify your heart that you might walk in integrity before Him.