AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART
AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART
I have always loved this adage. I cannot count the number of times someone has encouraged me from a pulpit to strive to be one “after God’s own heart”. It was very often from my dad, but since he was also the preacher I always envision him saying it from behind the large, elaborately carved, wooden pulpit he used to stand behind when he was a preacher in Mississippi. To be someone after God’s heart meant to love Him before all others. To align your desires with the desires of the Father. Of course, it didn’t mean to be perfect but to understand the importance of daily strife toward Christlikeness. I wanted to live daily so that everyone could tell that I lived for the Lord. I wanted to look different than those that lived for themselves and didn’t know the love of God that impacted my whole life. I wanted to be able to discern His voice above all of the other voices of the world that called me away from things that God would desire for me…like a sheep knows the voice of his shepherd, I wanted to know my God. This was the picture of someone who was a “man after God’s own heart.” Except that’s not what the Scripture says. Now, of course, all of these things are good things and can be found in one way or another in other scriptures… but it is not the definition given in scripture for how to be one after God’s heart.
This passage is very often quoted by those aspiring to bring motivation to their audience listening, but it is very rarely completed. An incomplete passage of scripture is very often a dangerous miscommunication. The completed passage says David “was a man after God’s own heart, for he will do ALL of my will.” Ouch. The Lord gave us the instruction manual on how to be a believer like David. He wasn’t perfect! Far from it! He basically hung out on a rooftop with binoculars so he could lurk at a naked neighbor… the guy was downright creepy. He was an adulterous, arrogant, murdering, lying, compromising, lazy, fearful, entitled aristocrat. But God could use him… because He was willing to be used. The only qualification to be a man/woman after God’s own heart was to do ALL of God’s will. Samuel was directed to David after God removed His blessing of Saul. Why did God do that?
Command. Just one command. He is not talking about the 10 commandments or the law. It would be impossible to keep all of the commandments for anyone….even the chosen King of Israel. There is one command that was given that was disobeyed. God commanded Saul to destroy the Amalekites, but Saul kept some of the spoils of the victory for himself and his people even telling Samuel of his intention to sacrifice these pagan spoils to God. But Samuel said,
You see? Saul obeyed the Lord MOSTLY… until he saw what would be beneficial to him. “This makes sense God, so I will do this and I’m sure you will bless it.” Even though he was given clear instructions from God. He did what God told him to…MOSTLY.
David did ALL of God’s will. Now, there’s the hard part. What’s God’s will? The big picture is the same for everyone. God told us in his word “Go and make disciples”. That’s it. That’s what we as believers are called to do. Go and find an unreached people group in your own backyard or across the world and be the hands and feet of Jesus. We were created for God, but we are called to his people.
We hear the word “called” very often.
“I was called to serve as a missionary to Africa.”
“I was 3 years old when I was called to full-time ministry.”
“I’ve been called to leave this church and go do that ministry.”
We’ve heard it so often in the church that we’ve probably become very numb to this word…I know I have. It’s a weighted word that means that God has commanded an action of some sort usually for a ministry or evangelistic purpose. And often used in scripture to note those of us that are “set apart” or “called out” as believers. But often it’s used to justify a move in vocation or location. (this is not what the bible says, this is just Kayla talking..) I feel that Christians sometimes feel the need to spiritually justify everything. I was talking to a girlfriend of mine, whose husband is in ministry. Her husband had a ministerial position at a church, a very demanding one that dominated a lot of his time. He was offered a position at a different church. The pay was roughly the same, but he got more vacation time and it gave him more time with his wife and kids. When asked why they decided to move, my girlfriend would say, “it was just a great job opportunity.” Now, I’ve always loved this girl, but I seriously loved her more. It is important to note that there is nothing super spiritual about sacrificing your family for your ministry. Your family comes second to God himself, of course, but not to your church…and there is a difference. There was no need for the “churchy answer” of “ well, we just feel the Lord calling us to this church”…even though that may be true! It was a great job opportunity to allow this man to do ministry to which he was “called” in a place that allowed him to provide for his family both financially and emotionally. That word holds significant weight and if we use it sparingly, it will hold its value much better and maintain our reputations as wise prophets of the Word.
So what’s the little voice that answers the prayers of His people? That’s God’s direction to enable His calling. I am in no way saying that someone who says “I have been called” is mishearing the Lord. Just encouraging caution when using words with a heavenly weight by giving them an earthly measure. “Now that’s just semantics, Kayla! Calm down!” Yes, it is!! Words mean something and when we say them, we are teaching theology as believers to those younger in the faith than we are. And in this age of social media where catchphrases can “catch fire”… be wise.
David was by no means perfect, but he was obedient. He was obedient to do ALL of God’s will. Is that even possible? Can we do ALL of God’s will ALL the time? Yes… if not then scripture would be less than true..so how? Well, it obviously does not require a sinless life or David most certainly would not be a candidate for such a title. From what I can surmise from reading the scriptures the difference between a leader like David and a leader like Saul is that Saul may have obeyed but for his own gain (like the elder brother in the story of the prodigal). He followed God for the victories in battle that gave His kingdom security and His pride applause from his people. When God removed His favor, his people applauded another and his heart was led to envy revealing that his obedience was never to God for love of God but for love of self. David’s heart beat for what God’s heart beat for. He desired to do what God wanted him to do for the love of God and the glory of His name. He was obedient to follow the Lord’s instruction and repent when he failed Him. He recognized his humanity and submitted to God’s deity. He obeyed when spoken to and bowed to the real King of Israel. He failed, but fell on his face before a holy and worthy God. He was a man after God’s own heart that did ALL of God’s will.