REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Thought, first posted on June 6, 2015, is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, who in the past has served as a staff at several AMI churches. He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).
Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”
1 Kings 1:1-4
When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. 2 So his attendants said to him, “Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.” 3 Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 4 The woman was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no sexual relations with her.
In the English language the common idiom, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” points to an idea that once a person has reached a certain age, he or she cannot change by giving up the old ways to learn new habits, ways of thinking, skills, etc. In other words, as you get older and more set in your ways, you become less teachable, and more stubborn. Although I have never been particularly fond of the idea conveyed by this expression, I do have to admit that I have found it to be incredibly true. In fact, most people I’ve encountered to whom this idiom holds true aren’t even that old. I can’t tell you how many people in their 20’s and 30’s I’ve talked to who do not heed good advice or who have surrendered into a resolve of, “Hey, this is who I am, and I will never change.”
Here is the spiritual truth: If the Holy Spirit is truly living inside of you, not only are you capable of change (no matter your age), but you are expected to change more and more into the image of Christ. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed two primary thought patterns that have inhibited growth in many believers. First, is the aforementioned defeated position where some settle into saying and thinking things like, “I’m just an angry guy with a short fuse, and I’ll never be gentle. I can’t change.” The other pattern is that we actually like our old selves too much and do not want to embrace the characteristics of Christ, thinking, “I like being the snarky, sarcastic, say what I feel, guy. I don’t really need to season my conversations with salt” (Col. 4:6); neither way of thinking is becoming of the disciple of Christ.
Though weird, I find today’s passage to be quite encouraging. Think about David’s biggest sin—sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband to cover up the conspiracy. It was a sin sparked by lust. As we read about David many years later, we see how far he has come to overcome lust. The beautiful young Abishag was brought in to keep the king warm at night—you know the royal advisors had R-rated intentions, yet the Bible is clear that King David never slept with her. In essence, Abishag became a professional teddy bear (odd job put on your resume), and this odd relationship took on a sweet PG tone.
For those of you who are struggling with a persistent issue, David is proof that every sin can be overcome by the follower of Christ. In other words, we are not “too old to be taught new tricks.”
Prayer: Lord, help me to see some of the thought and life patterns that have been beating me. Give me courage and the resolve to overcome. Fill me with the Spirit. Also bring to light any areas that I need to change but am hesitant to submit to You because I actually like these things. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 4-5