Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Battling Other Believers”
2 Samuel 2:14-17 (ESV)
And Abner said to Joab, “Let the young men arise and compete before us.” And Joab said, “Let them arise.”  Then they arose and passed over by number, twelve for Benjamin and Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.  And each caught his opponent by the head and thrust his sword in his opponent’s side, so they fell down together. Therefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is at Gibeon.  And the battle was very fierce that day. And Abner and the men of Israel were beaten before the servants of David.
This scene seems to describe one part of an ongoing feud between bitter enemies—something akin to the warring families of the Hatfield and McCoy or even an awful ethnic conflict. Nothing of consequence is decided, yet blood is shed. The men of Saul and the servants of David engage in a fight to the death, essentially for the sake of pride.
On the one hand, the conflict seems understandable; the ascension to the throne is still being determined. But on the other hand, this is not just any transition in political power, for Israel is not just any nation: they are the chosen people of God. The people of Benjamin and the people of Judah are not competing political parties or warring tribes—they are brothers, redeemed by the One True God. They have a mutual calling to worship and serve Yahweh; yet, brother is killing brother and the fighting is very fierce.
Even today, some of the fiercest “battles” in our lives are with other believers. The conflicts with the most heated emotions can be among brothers and sisters. What could cause such hostility between spiritual family members?
In our passage, the people of God are caught up in a battle for power, prestige, and wealth. I’m sure they would have said something about “justice” or “the will of God.” Maybe they would have even played the victim card. But something other than the glory of God has become their highest priority; and the proof is in the fact that they are willing to sin to get what they want, need, or deserve.
As we consider our relationships with others in our local church, what are we motivated by? What situations tempt us to fall into slander or bitterness? What priority does the glory of God have?
Prayer: Father, I thank You for sending Your Son that the world might be united in worship of Him. Yet even when I am among brothers and sisters, I have so many impure motivations and desires. Purify my heart that I might pursue Your glory and the good of those around me.
Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 14
Lunch Break Study
Read Genesis 4:3-8 (ESV): In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground,  and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,  but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.  The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”  Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.
Question to Consider
1. According to vv. 4-5, what caused the conflict between Cain and Abel?
2. How did Cain respond to his disappointment?
3. Throughout the passage, who does Cain care most about?
1. Cain became angry because the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not for Cain and his offering. The conflict was caused by Cain’s jealousy. It began in Cain’s heart and not in anything external.
2. Cain murdered his brother Abel. Cain’s desires mattered more than the life of his brother.
3. Cain cares only for himself. He does not care about pleasing or obeying God, nor does he care about Abel or his well-being.
Reflect upon your relationships in the church. In the more difficult relationships, what priorities are being threatened? In the easier relationships, what priorities are being achieved? What things connect or disconnect you from others more than your common relationship with God?