Have you ever been around someone who’s faith angered you? Maybe they’re attempting something that just makes you shake your head, something you see no good reason for them to undertake? (You know, like taking in a baby when they’re in their fifties!) Or going to a public place and intentionally sharing the gospel with strangers. Or going door to door and praying for people. Or protesting an abortion clinic. Or… whatever it happens to be, there’s some Christian somewhere doing something we all consider foolhardy.
My wife and I have a friend, a single mom with two children who has always struggled financially. When she took in a baby (around the same time we received Kate), we didn’t think it was a wise decision. Of course, we didn’t tell her that. Ironically, when my wife told her we were going to foster a baby in our fifties, she expressed the same sentiment, that it’s probably not a very wise decision.
We’ve all been around Christians who’ve taken actions with which we disagreed. In fact, if truth be told, sometimes their actions anger us.
There’s a story like that in the book of Samuel where young David brings his older brother some provisions sent from their father. David hears Goliath taunting Israel and asks the men standing near him, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
When his older brother hears this, he is more than a little irritated with David. So, he says to David, “What are you even doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be watching sheep somewhere? I know how special you think you are to God.” David’s older brother, Eliab, is upset because David has faith that God can defeat the Philistines.
Why would that upset him?
It’s an odd truth, but unbelief is often angered by faith. And I don’t mean unbelief in the sense of the unbeliever. This account in Samuel is specifically dealing with the faith of God’s people. When everyone else was afraid to act, the faith of someone who believed God would intervene in the situation threatened them. It accused them of the faith they should exercise in the living God who proved Himself to them in miraculously demonstrative ways during their lifetime. David’s question was really asking, “Why isn’t anyone doing anything? Don’t you know God is jealous for His glory? Do you think He cowers before these ignorant bullies?”
Again, the unbelief David was rebuking was the unbelief of God’s people who should have known better. They had every reason to believe God. They asked for a king, so God gave them a king. It was a foolish request because God was their King, but they wanted to be like the other nations. They wanted cultural acceptance. It was a mindset similar to the statement, “I don’t want to home school my kids, because I don’t want them to be weird.” Something I’ve heard from more than one person in my life, but that’s the type of cultural acceptance they desired.
Showing His patience with them, God gave them a human king in the person of Saul. Then king Saul defeated the Ammonites. Their kingdom was renewed, but then their human king went astray. He feared losing power, so he took things into his own hands. The complaints and unrest of the people influenced his choices, so he offered the burnt offering instead of waiting for the prophet Samuel. His fearful actions affected the rest of his life. Saul is such a depressing figure. Then Samuel told Saul that the Lord rejected him as king because, “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
This is what is means to be a person after God’s own heart — someone who does what God says. We can only do what God says when we believe Him. That’s the faith that often angers us, because it’s a faith that takes action. It’s a faith that takes the action we’re sometimes too afraid to take. When we realize this we feel accused, which makes us angry.
That’s the faith that angered David’s brother. But the rumor of David’s faith spread to king Saul. When Saul sent for him, David said, “Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine. I’ll fight him.”
While someone’s faith can anger some believers, it can encourage others. The Apostle Paul commended believers all the time for their encouraging faith: “For this reason, because I have heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints” (Ephesians 1:15), “because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God's people” (Colossians 1:4), “because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus” (Philemon 1:5).
That’s the faith David had. He believed what God said. Because He believed what God said, he believed God would act. Since He believed God would act, he took action.
I get a little tired of how often I wait to take action. I’m not sure what holds me back sometimes. Maybe I think certain things need to fall into place or I need to feel a certain way before I take action. What I always discover is that God doesn’t need me to be more than I am right now, because He doesn’t need me per say. He just needs me to believe Him. He’ll do the rest. That’s the part I have a hard time believing. When will I ever learn this lesson? Oh, I know. Tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow’s when I’ll finally believe and take action.
Wait a second. Didn’t the Lord say, “Today is the day of salvation!” Oh, right. Today. Today’s the day to take action.
Just don't get angry with me.