Suspicion to Cynicism

Where suspicion is a reasonable assumption that something’s wrong in an another individual, cynicism is a reflection of something wrong in the “assumer.”

suspicion to cynicism

2 Samuel 10:3: the Ammonite leaders said to Hanun their lord, “Just because David has sent men with condolences for you, do you really believe he’s showing respect for your father? Instead, hasn’t David sent his emissaries in order to scout out the city, spy on it, and demolish it? ”

I remember working along side a minister years ago who was very gifted in a number of ways.  I was glad for him to be a part of our mission. Over time, however, he began to miss appointments or was late in arriving at a scheduled time. He wouldn’t return calls and when we would finally connect, he would offer excuses that seemed more elusive than reasonable.

Unfortunately, I can recall several occasions in the past when I have become suspicious of Christians.

The root of suspicion is suspect. Its definition is “to believe to be guilty, false, counterfeit, undesirable, defective, bad, etc. with little proof.” Proof is the key word here. Suspicion is based in some aspect of evidence or at least bits of apparent truth that could very well come together as proof.

That’s different than what we see here in this passage. This seems to be mere cynicism. To be cynical is simply to “distrust the motives of others.”  It’s non-direct and non-specific. Where suspicion is a reasonable assumption that something’s wrong in an another individual, cynicism is a reflection of something wrong in the “assumer.” In this passage, cynicism in Hanun’s leadership is spread to him like a contagion with no basis in reason or evidence. The result is the humiliation of David’s men who came in truth and kindness and then the response of David which is tragic for Hanun and his people. The devil certainly had his way in cynicism.

That’s why there’s no place for it in the body of Christ. But we all see it from time to time. Why? Most of the time, cynical Christians are hurt ones. Oh! That the enemy of our souls had some shade of kindness in him that he wouldn’t kick us when we’re down, take advantage of us when we’re injured. But he’s void of kindness. When the Christian is injured in his or her heart, the enemy takes full advantage of the moment to plant the seed of cynicism, which when fully grown, yields the fruit of non-specific, non-directed doubt and distrust.

But what about suspicion? Can we be suspicious of Christians?  That’s a more difficult question.

Take a look at John 2:24.  Jesus would not entrust himself to man for He knew what was in man. Jesus had a reason to be suspicious of man’s intent because he knew what was in the heart of man. Greed, lust, envy, hatred and every other thing that stem from the obsession with “self.” But hasn’t the Christian died to self? Isn’t it the Christian who no longer lives, but Christ in him? If that is truly the case, then there is no place for suspicion in the body of Christ, for Christ would never suspect Himself!

Unfortunately, some who claim His name are not of Him or filled with His Spirit. How do we know? Fruit. But we all know Christians (and “Christians”) who have at one time or another borne worldly rather than godly fruit, myself included. What should we do? Pray that God will empower us with His love and true concern to push our suspicion to action and address it with that one we consider our brother or sister. If not, love is eroded, pain is inflicted, and we might just become cynical.


Wrong seed, wrong side

wrong seed wrong side

2 Samuel 9:1  David asked, “Is there anyone remaining from Saul’s family I can show kindness to because of Jonathan? ”

I’m in the Chicago airport right now and have never seen it quite this congested. People moving by each other in opposing streams that sometimes mix awkwardly without so much as “excuse me.” Some meander in a sigh of unwanted wait while others zip by them with an “every second counts” urgency.  I believe it’s in human congestion that Christianity has greatest potential to flourish. So many opportunities to consider others in more need, to take note of fatigue, stress, sadness in the faces of people, to pray for others like the guy who sat beside me on the flight here. He had an obvious staph infection. I could smell it. His foot was wrapped in an elastic bandage and he donned a medical sandal. I didn’t feel sorry for him; that sappy human compassion that operates out of ignorance and material-based guilt.  Rather, I just watched for an opportunity to connect with him, to help any way I could and yes to pray for him, that his foot would be spared. Why? What is there in my nature or any human’s nature to do good for another with no thought of reward? From where does the desire to esteem and edify a stranger stem? I give that all to God.

Favor for a favor. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. They’re all examples of direct reciprocity. Humans are really good at that. But God is not only the author of “other-reciprocity” or transitive reciprocity, He is the Imparter. And it was evidently imparted to David. “Is there anyone I can show kindness to because of his service to me?” Nope. “…because of his potential?” Nope again. “…because of Jonathon” David asked. Yeah, David had been shown kindness by one and wished to extend it to another.  Would Jonathon know or care? No. He was dead. Would broken-footed Mephibosheth have cared if David never considered him? No. He was in Lo-Debar and was in fact hoping he would never run into David. After all, he was of the wrong seed and on the wrong side, the grandson of the previous king who had attempted to murder David… more than once. But even though of the wrong seed, on the wrong side and with absolutely nothing to offer, David desired to be kind to this poor and lame man.

So it should be for us. I pray God alert me to Mephibosheths in my path to whom I can show God’s kindness… just because. After all, it was because of God that Christ showed me kindness even though I was of the wrong seed, on the wrong side and had absolutely nothing I could offer.

Hamstring Your Horses

hamstring your horses

2 Samuel 8:4 David captured 1,700 horsemen and 20,000 foot soldiers from him, and he hamstrung all the horses and kept 100 chariots.

How powerful is the enemy of our souls? Hollywood has flooded our conscience with images of giant black winged beasts, invincible eternal vampires and zombies that just keep coming. And in every depiction, man is the underdog on the scramble to survive.

I love these few verses because it’s just the opposite of that. David’s powerful enemy is rendered impotent in a “matter of fact” methodical way: kill 2/3 of them, put guards around them and hamstring their horses.  Hamstring their horses?
Horses are power. And in the days before tanks and trucks, horses were the power. In fact, God forbid Israeli kings to have a fleet of horses. Why? Too much power. (Yes, God is for small government, too.) To hamstring a horse was to disable it by cutting its Achilles’ tendons.
Consider that you might use the same technique in battle today.
On the war board there’s you and your family, enemies and a horse. Maybe a lot of horses.  The enemy is Satan or his minions assigned to steal from, kill and destroy you using sin as their weapon. Of course, you’re the good guy in the story. But the horses – whose are they? Yours. What are they? Your evil desires. Take a look at James 1:14.  Yes, we all have evil desires. Those are the horses and once the enemy mounts them, then your desire has conceived and the power of sin will overtake you. You lost that battle.
Conceived? Yep. That’s what James 1:15 says. That sounds like sex or something, doesn’t it? Yep again. That’s to what the Greek refers. So here’s the lesson today in one short line that is very easy for us to remember:
Evil desires? Don’t screw with ’em. Hamstring ’em.