Stages of Growth: "The Relationship Equation" – 2 Samuel 18

Both Absalom and David faced momentous decisions. Only one faced them with friends that wanted his success. Absalom’s selfish life left him alone and without another to remember him. David’s friends, by contrast, carried David’s good when he could not help himself. The difference is what relationships David made before the crisis….

Key Principle: We can face a crisis successfully if we exhibit a godly character.

I become incensed whenever I see or hear of a child treating their parent in a disrespectful way. Some daytime television talk shows have given us a glimpse at what’s going on in some families today. Maybe you’ve watched some of them. I won’t give them a free commercial by mentioning their names, for their names are really not that important. They all pretty much do shows on the same topics: “Kids Out of Control!”… “Children Off The Hook!” … “I’m Afraid of My Child!” … The list could go on and on.

–Imagine it. Having to run and hide from the child you have given life to!
— Imagine it. Having to hire body guards to protect you from the child you have sacrificed and toiled for to put a roof over their heads!
— Imagine it. Having to suffer the shame and embarrassment of those who heard about Absalom’s actions and as your walk down a public street hearing them whisper, “There goes David. It’s a shame what his son did to him!”

What did David do? He demonstrated the character that got him through the difficult situation:

  1. Focused: Faced the problem and understood the need to get his people to safety (17:24).

We must learn to identify the facts and face them. Then we must analyze the situation correctly:

Consider this new study:

(A) Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
(B) The French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
(C) Japanese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
(D) Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.

(E) Conclusion: Eat & drink what you like. Apparently, It’s speaking English that kills you.

Seriously, it is important to identify the REAL issues. Too many people are caught up in panic over things they cannot control. Mark Twain said this: “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

  1. Trusted: David stood on the shoulders of his loyal friends (17:27-29). Note: Shobi was the child of a conquered King. David treated people so well in his life that when things went very wrong for him, people that could have been enemies decided rather to stand  with him.
  1. Organized: the people to meet the challenge (18:1a). Divided the responsibilities under responsible people and set the chain of command in front of all (18:1b-2).

You aren’t designed to do everything yourself. I am amazed at the craze of self help literature that suggests you can do anything on your own! It isn’t true. In fact, others see the craziness of this. One guy complied this little list of titles he thinks people should put on their books!

1. Chickenless Soup for the Vegetarian Soul
2. 7,000 Habits of Highly Compulsive People
3. Stupidity for Dummies
4. Teaching Yourself to Read
5. How to Lose Five Pounds in Six Years
6. How to Rip People off by Writing Self-help Books.

  1. Grabbed Responsibility: Took the responsibility personally (18:2b).

Presidential Advice was given by a lame duck President who met his successor in the Oval office in the transition period near the end and presented the incoming leader 3 numbered envelopes. He told the new President to open them in order when great difficulties presented themselves. After new the President had a “honeymoon” period wmedia & public, the US experienced an economic downturn. Frustrated, he opened the 1st envelope. Inside a card read: “Blame me.” So he set out and criticized the former administration. Sometime later, a social upheaval brought about a critical domestic crisis. Exasperated, the President opened the #2 envelope. Inside the card said simply, “Blame my party”. He did so, in an overt display of partisan politics. A year later, when his foreign policy resulted in serious problems that took him to the end of his rope, the President opened the third envelope. Inside, the card read: “Prepare three envelopes.” After all, You can only blame so long before you become responsible.

All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault we find with another, regardless of how much we blame someone, it will not change us.The only thing blaming someone does is to keep the focus off of us while we look for external reasons to explain our unhappiness or frustration. We may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming them, but we won’t succeed in changing and moving away f rom the sin that is making us unhappy.

  1. Listened to the hearts of his people and acknowledged his age limitation (18:3, cp 17:2). He did what was best for the Kingdom, and did not act in vanity.

How well do you really listen? Let me test you: You are driving a bus. You go east 12 miles, and turn south and go 2 miles and take on 9 passengers, and then you turn west and go 3 miles and let off 4 passengers. How old is the bus driver? The main problem that many people have when trying to answer this brain teaser is listening. A lot of the times, we latch onto certain information that we think is important in a question and then somehow, miss the most important part. When I first read this question earlier this morning, like many of you, I latched onto the directions (east, south, west), the distance and the number of passengers on the bus. Those are things that that are important right? When I got to the end and it asked how old the bus driver is, I just was dumb founded. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “how are we going to find the age of the buss driver from the information given.” I took a minute and looked at the numbers are wondered if there was some secret message in the numbers and maybe, if you added them together or something, it would work. It wasn’t for a few moments that I finally realized that the clue to this teaser was a simple, three letter word that starts the whole question off. “YOU are the bus driver.”

Listening and loving go together like peaches and cream. If you love people you listen to them. You hear what they have to say. I read a story this past week that illustrates the point.

“A young lady by the name of Lisa was approached by her outreach pastor and asked if she would become part of a new evangelism team. After Lisa considered the request for a moment, her first words out of her mouth were, ‘I’m sorry, I’m no good at evangelism!’ Since that is the response that the outreach pastor received many times he asked her, ‘Wouldn’t it be exciting to help people come to know Jesus?’ ‘Oh,’ replied Lisa with a big smile, ‘I get to do that all the time.’ When the outreach pastor heard that he asked her what she meant. Lisa said, ‘Every few months God sends me a new friend to listen to. Pretty much all I do is tune in to what’s going on in that person’s life and let the person know that I care. Sooner or later, for some reason, most people ask me how to get to know Jesus. When they do, I tell them. And then we pray together to ask the Lord to come into their hearts. I can’t stand the idea of high pressure knocking on doors evangelism thing: it feels too manipulative to me. Listening to people and talking to them heart to heart is something I love to do.’ After a stunned moment the outreach pastor roared with laughter. Then he asked, ‘Just out of curiosity, how many people are we talking about?’ Lisa could not say at the moment, but when she went home that night she started reflecting back, looking up in her personal journals the past seven years. What she found was that she had helped more than 80 people begin a personal relationship with Jesus! All because she would start by listening to them. (From the book “Outflow” by Steve Sjogren and Dave Ping.)

  1. Placed his blessing on each going out (18:4).
  1. Exuded compassion for his enemy, but anticipated victory! (18:5).

In 1975, a child named Raymond Dunn, Jr., was born in the state of New York. The Associated Press (AP) reported that at his birth, a skull fracture and oxygen deprivation caused severe retardation. As the child grew up, the family discovered that he had other impairments. His twisted body suffered up to 20 seizures per day – He was blind, he was mute, and he was immobile. And if that wasn’t enough, he had severe allergies that limited him to only one food – a meat-based formula produced by Gerber Foods. In 1985, Gerber Foods ceased production of the formula that Raymond Dunn, Jr., depended on to survive. His mother scoured the country, buying up all the formula that stores had in stock – accumulating cases and cases of the product; however, in 1990, her supply ran out – without this particular food, Raymond Dunn, Jr., would starve to death. In desperation, his mother appealed to Gerber Foods for help. The employees of the company listened; and, in an unprecedented action, volunteers donated hundreds of hours to bring out old equipment, set up production lines – with permission from the Food and Drug Administration – and produced the formula – all for one special boy! In January 1995, Raymond Dunn, Jr., known as the “Gerber Boy,” died from his physical problems. However, during his lifetime, he called forth a wonderful thing called compassion.

  1. Experienced God’s aid (18:6-8). Jas 4:8-10 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up

I came across a little prayer in a Christian magazine, headed: “A Morning Prayer for Help” – note that I said “morning”! “Dear God, so far today I’ve done alright, I haven’t gossiped, lost my temper, been nasty, selfish or over indulgent. But in a few minutes God, I’m going to get out of bed and from then on, I’m going to need all the help I can get.

We can face a crisis successfully if we exhibit a godly character.

On August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines flight 225 crashed just after taking off from the Detroit airport, killing 155 people. One survived: a four-year-old from Tempe, Arizona, named Cecelia. News accounts say when rescuers found Cecelia they did not believe she had been on the plane. Investigators first assumed Cecelia had been a passenger in one of the cars on the highway onto which the airliner crashed. But when the passenger register for the flight was checked, there was Cecelia’s name. Cecelia survived because, even as the plane was falling, Cecelia’s mother, Paula Chican, unbuckled her own seat belt, got down on her knees in front of her daughter, wrapped her arms and body around Cecelia, and then would not let her go . . . Such is the love of our [heavenly Father and] Savior for us. He left heaven, lowered himself to us, and covered us with the sacrifice of his own body to save us.