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How to Live a Good Life

how to live a good life
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If you’d like to hear about how to live a good life, please watch the video below called “Good Deeds in a Naughty World.” Everybody wants to live a great story, but many people think their story depends on their circumstances. As a result, they end up wasting their actual life trying to change their circumstances so they can “be happy” in some alternate version of their life that must be floating around out there somewhere. Discover that when you make the world a better place, you’re actually making your world a better place.

Watch this awesome talk by communicator Levi Lusko and realize that living the good life doesn’t depend on your circumstances, but something else altogether. And guess what – you’re in the driver’s seat!

We are in a series of messages that we’ve called Pretty Ugly People. And today I want to continue with an installment that I’m calling Good Deeds In a Naughty World. Good Deeds In a Naughty World.

How to Live a Good Life

We all know that doing good deeds or kind acts to strangers is something we should do. We all know that paying it forward is a better way to live than always wanting to take. We know that to choose random acts of kindness is a beautiful way to live.

And I think deep down we all aspire to and want to live our lives out in a way that is wonderful, that people are like impacted by it. And I think we know that that’s good for us to do for others.

But what’s amazing to realize is that it’s also a better way to live for you. And that people who are kind by nature end up living longer and end up being healthier. It’s good for your body. And also, you end up just being a happier person, a more enjoyable person.

Living the Good Life

One study I recently came across found that if you are able to do five kind things a week– now that shouldn’t be too hard. There’s like seven days, right? If you’re able to just do five– it means you’ll get two days off, right? Five days out of the week you do something kind for somebody, you know, pay for the person behind you in the drive-through after you check to see what they got. I’m going to be kind of within reason, you know. It’s like, right. Oh, they got what? Dang it, one of everything. All right. Perfect. I was just kidding about that.

But the study found that you’ll be 41% happier. They had a group of people who went out and have to do for a period of time just five things a week that were just nice for someone without wanting anything back for it or any attention for it. And they found, however they were able to determine this, that those people felt a boost of happiness as much as 41%, on average, in their daily lives.

How to Live a Great Life

So I think we get it, right? No one needs the like, hey, do kind things sermon. It’s like, is that a sermon? That’s the sermon? Got it. Be nice. Yes, my mother told me that a few times. That’s really hard.

Kindness on Purpose

So here’s the question. What about when kindness seems crazy? What about when kindness feels unwarranted and feels wrong? The real question that I’m asking is, how do we deal with difficult people without becoming ugly ourselves? How can we remain pretty when we have to do life with people who are anything but?

And a perfect person to answer this question for us is none other than King David. In 1 Samuel 18, we’re going to see a part of his story– we know David’s story, but this is a chapter that really began to expose him to unwarranted, unfair treatment and difficult circumstances in his life that came as a result of him trying to be kind, trying to live beautifully.

Kindness and Generosity

Here’s what we read in 1 Samuel 18. After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the King’s son.

There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.

There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt. How to live a good life.

Great Life

Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike. When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.
This was their song: “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” This made Saul very angry.

“What’s this,” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” So from that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.

Be a Light

The very next day, a tormenting spirit from God overwhelmed Saul and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice.

Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul. Finally, Saul sent him away and appointed him commander over 1,000 men, and David faithfully led his troops into battle. Now notice this, David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. How to live a good life.

Be the Light

Everybody’s talking about the royal family at the moment because of Harry and Meghan’s decision to step away from royal family duties at the upper levels. Now I’m kind of with Jim Gaffigan on the whole tracking with the royal family thing. He talks about how in America we love gossip, we love celebrity news, we love who Brad Pitt’s with and what Tom Cruise is doing on Oprah’s couch. We love that.

And he calls that eating McDonald’s, right? He says, no one’s proud of eating McDonald’s but when we read those sorts of things, it’s basically the same thing as McDonald’s. And he says, and if you follow the news of the royal family, that’s Burger King. So I’m a little bit with him on that.

Moving to Malibu

But I couldn’t help but notice that it’s been splashed across the news and the headlines. They’re moving to Malibu. And quite frankly, the weather in England versus the weather in Malibu, I completely get their decision. But it’s been funny to watch this play out. As they step away with their foundation or whatever they do that they can’t bring the word royal with them. Have you been seeing this?

They get to still be the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex. Like, that’s OK. But they just can’t use His Royal Highness and Her Royal Highness in front of their name. They’re still royalty. He’s still sixth in the line to the throne, which is like, if I was like second maybe in line, like stick around. But I’m with him, get off to Malibu, call me if you need me, I’ll be surfing. How to live a good life.

Have Your Cake

But he’s like, you know, I’m sixth in the line. It would take a lot of people dying. So you know, we’re peacing out. But like, well, OK, great. You want to go, though? You want to not have just the bad British weather and the bad British food? You want to go? You can’t take your Royal Highness title with you.

So it’s just so funny to see this whole thing play out. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, I guess, is the moral of the story.
Well, that’s a couple deciding to step away from royalty. This here is David’s shocking introduction to the royal family. As one of the perks of killing the giant Goliath was that he got to marry one of Saul’s daughters, which I guess was a great idea until he started to see the family close up, as he now is stepping into the mansion in Jerusalem and realizing that it is not all it’s cracked up to be. He’s not exactly given, I guess you could say, the royal treatment.

Honoring vs. Dishonoring

Now this, of course, isn’t all news to David, because he has been serving Saul for a long time. I think a lot of us maybe don’t even realize that before he killed Goliath, David had already had a relationship with Saul. And that’s because, as we saw at the end of the passage, and I’m sure there’s lots of parts and sections of the scripture that are like, wait, what exactly does that mean? Saul is dealing with a bad spirit from God, acting like a madman. David’s playing his harp.

Well, if we back up a little bit, Saul made a habit out of disobeying God. Saul made a habit out of dishonoring what God told him to do. He was someone who was coasting on his gifts, coasting on his looks, coasting on his charisma, but he didn’t develop the character.
And that’s why over the last few weeks of messages we’ve been really talking about how important it is to develop our soul, to develop our heart muscles. Because God’s not lit up by the things that we as humans are lit up on. He’s not smitten by the outward appearance. He cares about character. He cares about depth. He cares about integrity. He’s not fooled by a pretty face when he knows it’s attached to an empty head. How to live a good life.

Live a Great Story

And so that was the story of Saul. And as a result, the blessings of God in his life began to diminish and God’s hand on his life began to diminish. And as the scripture eventually, and it’s frightening, it says, God’s spirit departed from Saul. Now of course, that raises a lot of questions, like, can a Christian who’s been a Christian cease to be a Christian? And will God take His Holy Spirit away from you?

And we have to understand, first of all, that we’re living in a different age of grace than they were then in the Old Testament. Because there wasn’t the cross yet. The Holy Spirit hadn’t been given yet. And so when we talk about God’s Holy Spirit– which by the way, if you’re a Jesus follower, every follower of Jesus has access to the Holy Spirit of God to come upon you, to give you strength to do what you’ve been called to do, to give you power to live beautifully, to give you strength and self-control, to give you spiritual gifts and allow you to do things you could never do on your own.

Every single Jesus follower has– come on, is anybody thankful that we have the Holy Spirit?

That as we sing to God as we surrender to God, as we [INAUDIBLE], well, how do I get the Holy Spirit? OK, simple. You ask for it. Jesus said, my Father, in my name, will give you the Holy Spirit if you ask for Him. How to live a good life.

Rumble Strip

Now he already lives in you when you’re a Christian. The moment you get saved, the spirit comes to live in you. And then he’s willing to come upon you and to even speak to you when you’re about to make a bad decision. We preached a series of messages one time at the church called Rumble Strip. Because the Holy Spirit functions like those little dashes on the highway, [IMITATES BUMPING SOUNDS] trying to keep you out of the ditch, trying to keep you from a head-on collision, trying to keep you from Messing yourself up.

So the Holy Spirit has three relationships with the believer. He’s with you to speak to you and warn you. He’s also in you if Jesus is your Savior. But then he’s willing to come upon you. And this aspect of a relationship with the Holy Spirit is often neglected and often ignored. And we should never take it for granted because of what we’re seeing in the Old Testament. How to live a good life.

Wishing and Longing for a Better Life

Because in the Old Testament, only certain people got to have access to the Spirit like that, where he would come upon you and you would be able to use gifts, and come upon you and it would just be evident that his hand was on your life. So we’ve been given what many people spent their whole lives wishing for and longing for but never got to participate in the same way that we do.

Jesus, in fact, put it this way. Better men than you longed to see what you get to see. Better men than you, righteous women, and amazing, Godly, gifted people never got to have the relationship with me through my Spirit like you do today. So never take that for granted.

How to Live a Great Story

So Saul did. Saul was one of the rare few. Saul was one of the elite that got to have the Spirit come upon him like we do today. It wasn’t predictable or controllable. Some people got it. Some people didn’t back then. And Saul was one who did. And man, he took it for granted and he thought it was always going to be there. And he thought, worst of all, that it was because of him, that he was so great that God chose him. He was so smart that God chose him.

Now you have to understand, Saul was tall and good looking. He was king material. When you saw him, you’re like, that guy should be king. That guy is amazing. That guy is so good-loo– Have you been around somebody who’s so good looking or so just physically fit that you just feel self-conscious even being in their presence? Right?You’re like, no, I don’t. Because I’m the one who feels that way. OK, great. That’s amazing for you.

The rest of us mere mortals, right, [INAUDIBLE], man, you are just really good looking. You are just really fit. You have all your abs. It’s amazing. They’re not covered with any winter insulation. It’s unbelievable. How to live a good life.

King Material

And it’s an interesting thing. That was how Saul was. He stood head and shoulders above every other person. He was king material. He was pretty. But also at the same time ugly because he thought he was entitled because God called him to do whatever he wanted to do. And God would tell him to do stuff and he would cut corners and play in the shady gray area territory. And eventually it caught up to him.

And God warned him and warned him and warned him. And then finally God said, look, I’m going to take the kingdom from you and give it to someone better than you. I’m going to raise up someone who will follow me with his whole heart, not just his face and his looks and enjoy the perks but actually follow me authentically.

And so that’s what we’re seeing happen. And as that happens, Saul deteriorated. Saul just start decaying from the inside out. And we’re warned that this can happen to any one of us. And how does it happen? It happens through envy. It happens through envy. How to live a good life.

Where Does Envy Come From?

In fact, Proverbs 14:30 says– and I love this verse– a tranquil heart gives life to your flesh, but envy makes the bones rot. A tranquil heart, a heart at peace. What does it specifically indicate? Well, since it pits the tranquil heart as the opposite of envy, the tranquility would flow from gratitude with what you have and gratitude with where you are in life, as opposed to what anybody else has and what anybody else is getting to do and where anyone else is getting to go.

A tranquil heart is like water that’s at rest, that’s not churned up with I wish I had what someone else had. It’s not–because the tranquility of a spirit that says, I’m content, God, I have more than I deserve, you’ve been so good to me, that kind of a spirit, that gives life to your body. That actually causes you to feel a great sense of peace and you’re able to actually enjoy your life. How to live a good life.

What Does Envy Do?

But what does envy do? Envy rots the bones. I was listening to a sermon this week on envy. Because it’s one of those things you don’t hear a whole lot about, or think a lot about it. And yet, it is responsible for so much evil. That’s what Aristotle said. It’s responsible for so much of the other sins that we commit, this envy, like I deserve and I have and why did she get that, and why does he have that. And you know, it’s not just an issue of I want what you have. It’s I don’t think you should have it.

And there’s also the opposite side of envy, which is to rejoice when someone falls, to rejoice in iniquity, which the Bible says love would never cause you to rejoice in iniquity. But there can almost be this like smug satisfaction when you hear of the juicy news of someone who did this or got caught in this or lost this opportunity and almost is like, well, I always knew they were– I always knew, almost like this rejoicing. How to live a good life.

The Sickness of Envy

The Bible says that we’re to us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. But when you have an envious, rotten to the bone spirit inside of you, you’re almost taking pleasure in someone else falling but weeping when they rejoice. Because it’s an accomplishment you wish you had, a blessing that you wish you were given, a raise that you think that you merited more than they did. And what that really does is it causes you just to always have just a sickness.

And that’s what we see in Saul. He began to lose visibly what God had promised to him and that ultimately would go to someone else, but he was envious of the fact that he could clearly see that this guy was David, that David was the one that God had picked.

Envious Life

Now interestingly enough, they were connected. Far before God ever revealed to anybody that, or before that Saul would ever know that David was going to be king next, he began to have these horrible moods brought on by his sickness, his lack of health inside of his bones because of his envious life. And so his attendant said, hey, maybe we should bring a musician and they could play and it would soothe you.
And so the command went out, find the best harp player in the land.

Now what’s amazing about that is that word began to spread about this and the name that everybody had on their lips as a recommendation was David. Isn’t that so funny? Long before he’s a giant killer, long before he’s an epic warrior and an amazing king, even before we know about his ridiculous accomplishments as a shepherd, this guy was just like a dedicated harp player.

What does that mean? That means long hours of practice. That means dedication at learning the scales and the notes and playing till he had developed calluses and the ability to not have to look down but actually know. The Bible actually goes to graphic detail to say that he was the best player around. How to live a good life.

A Great Story

Look at the story. It says this. They suggested, Saul, let’s get a harp player. Verse 17, 1 Samuel 16. Well, find me someone who plays well. I don’t want them tripping all over the chords, playing bad notes. That’ll just make me angrier.

Verse 18. One of the servants said to Saul, one of Jesse’s sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player. Not only that, but he’s also a brave warrior, a man of war, and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the Lord is with him. Great resume.

So Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, send your son David the shepherd. Jesse responded by sending David to Saul, along with a young goat, a donkey loaded with bread and, a wineskin full of wine. So David went to Saul and began serving him. Saul loved David very much, and David became his armor bearer. And Saul sent word to Jesse saying, please let David remain in my service for I am very pleased with him. And whenever he experienced a tormenting spirit from God that troubled him, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away. How to live a good life.

A Privileged Position

So this began a period of David’s life where he would come and go, come and go. He would spend some time with Saul but then he would go back home when he needed to be a shepherd. And it was during one of those such visits back to home when he was taking care of the sheep that we know an animal attacked him and tried to get at the sheep. And he took care of the animal, took care of the bear, took care of the lion. And this sort of thing just was amazing. To know he’s in a privileged position as the King’s armor bearer, but he’s also being super faithful back at home with his normal responsibility. He didn’t let those things slip.

Now you have to remember, he has already been anointed by God to be the next king. No one knows about it, except for the prophet Samuel, who came to his house one day. And basically, it was like The Bachelor, except much less making out. It was all these guys lined up. And I guess– The Bachelorette. All these guys lined up, his brothers lined up. And Samuel said, God’s going to pick one of you to be king. The Lord told me to come to Jesse’s house.

Don’t Pick Based on Externals

And when he saw David’s oldest brother, Samuel’s inner dialogue is recorded in scripture, and goes, this guy’s definitely the King, he’s beautiful. And God goes, bro, do you remember what just happened with Saul? Don’t pick based on externals. I’ve rejected him. He’s not king material. And neither is Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber, all right?

And so Samuel goes, do you have any more sons? And his dad goes, well, I got one more but he’s out taking care of the sheep. He says, get him. We’re not eating until he comes. No one’s eating any brisket until he gets here. And so they go out and get David. And David comes. And God says, this is the one. This is the one that I’ve picked. How to live a good life.

Living a Good Life Now

So he’s already had oil poured over his head. You’re going to be King one day. Now it would be a long time before he gets to be King. And what’s his immediate response? Dad, are we done here? The sheep need to be fed. His go-to response is not to expect special treatment or to think that someone else is going to take care of the duties at the bottom of the totem pole of the home, which would be definitely taking care of the sheep. His go-to response was just to go back to servant, to being a servant, to go back to doing what God had him doing originally.

And then he would have to also split time with the palace and go back there. But he’s faithful at home and he would deal with his brothers’ criticism when he comes to serve them, bringing them dinner. Literally, how demeaning. He’s supposed to be the next king. And his dad’s like, go bring them some food. And so he’s coming to bring them food and they’re like, oh, why’d you come? You just came to watch the battle. You’re not taking care. And he just let that kind of glance off of him.

An Appropriate Response

And then, after he kills Goliath, which is amazing, right, no one asked him to do that. He’s like, this guy is making fun of God. You’re just going to let– anybody, you, you? You’re going to fight him? No. Everyone’s like, uh. I got a text I gotta respond to. OK. How about you saw your head and shoulders above everybody? Oh, I got a stiff neck. You know, I would kill him but my neck’s been hurting and–

And David says, fine. And he grabs his slingshot, you know the story. He goes out there. Five smooth stones. You’re like, why five? Did you think he was going to miss? No, he killed him on the first shot. He’s a great shot. He knew that Goliath had four other brothers. And he was going to take care of them down the road. By the way, that’s what happens. He takes care of all Goliath’s brothers, ultimately. How to live a good life.

Being the Light

So I love it. He’s got one for Goliath, but he’s taking care of his bros, too. He knows they’re going to be mad as well when they come. And he takes care of this giant. And he’s celebrated and he’s honored. And yet he still shows up in Saul’s bedroom when he needs the harp played for his bad moods.

The text says, mighty man of war, after being made a general– he probably still would have split time back to go to Bethlehem and take care of the sheep, too, if they’d have let him. And yet he was still being faithful with these small things.

These are the things that Saul would never do. The moment Saul kind of had this hint of royalty on him, it was all glitz and all how can I be in charge of people and kind really begin to build a life that was a monument unto himself. The same sort of thing that we saw last week that Absalom was doing.

How to Be the Light in a Dark World

Saul was only focused on externals, but David cared about his heart. David knew the small things, that no one sees, were the things that ultimately were going to keep him strong and make him be able to withstand successfully the bigger temptations that would come on most occasions. And so that’s what David did.

But what’s interesting is in response to his constant faithfulness, constant kindness. You show me one harsh thing he ever did to Saul, one negative thing he ever did. Never in any circumstance do we see David speaking ill of Saul, dishonoring Saul, being treacherous or even defiant, or even having a bad attitude day. He takes care of Saul’s giants, takes care of Saul’s daughter, best friends with Saul’s son, will not tolerate a negative word to be spoken about King Saul in his audience, and plays the harp skillfully when Saul has nightmares.

When Someone You Love Treats You Badly

And Saul’s response is to try and pin him to the wall, twice, which are just two of the six murder attempts that he will specifically make on David’s life, not to count chasing him around the country for nearly a decade. So if I’m David, I understand when animals attack me. I even can kind of understand when my brothers criticize me. And I definitely understand when the nine-foot tall ugly giant tries to kill me. That’s what they do. How to live a good life.

Don’t Be Surprised When You Get Treated Badly

But if I’m David, what do you do when someone who loves you greatly treats you badly? Well, first of all, five takeaway truths. Don’t be surprised. Don’t be surprised when it happens. Don’t be surprised when in response to you trying to live beautifully, people act out against you. Don’t be surprised.

Why? Because it’s a normative part of life in general. Life in general. What do I mean? I mean it’s a world where people are broken. And people’s broken humanity comes out. And sometimes it has nothing to do with you. Sometimes you’re dealing with people who are just having a bad day. And I think sometimes it’s easy to read into things. But sometimes just remember, like people maybe just be having a headache, like that person who was short with you or crabby or, you know, slighted you, they’re going to at times be harsh. And sometimes it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with what they’re dealing with.

Good Works Attract Opposition

But then in specific, I think we need to remember that when we are being exalted, that attracts opposition. When God has his hand on your life and he’s blessing you at work and maybe doors are opening that wouldn’t have opened otherwise because you’re just pouring yourself into it, and you’re really, you’re praying– and I would just encourage you, before you go to work, give a prayer to God for wisdom. The Bible says, if anyone lacks wisdom, let them ask of God.

So what an incredible competitive advantage to have the wisdom of God coursing through you at work, to know how to navigate the difficulties of your boss’ dynamic, to know how to serve in such a way with the right spirit. It’s possible. I don’t care. You’re like, oh, no, God isn’t going to bless me. I work at Wendy’s. God will bless you at Wendy’s. Are you kidding me? And you just watch promotion. You just watch blessings.

Do What You Say You Will Do

Why? Because when there’s something different about you– here’s a ragingly wild idea. Do what you say you’re going to do. And you just watch as that sets you apart from so many people. Have a right heart. Have a right spirit. Never talk behind people’s back. Always do more than you say you’re going to do. Show up early and stay late and be kind and use your manners and be presentable. Don’t dress for the job you have. Dress for the job you want.

When you just have that kind of a spirit about you, that’s in rare supply. So many people, they’re not there and they make excuses and dishonest. So when you just live a life of integrity and kindness and you’re professional and you think things through and you take the initiative and you come up with ideas and you don’t care who gets the credit and you’re not always pointing fingers and, well, so-and-so did it and you keep Altoids in your pocket or purse. How to live a good life.

What We Do Best

I’m just telling you, when you just have a good breath and there’s just a good breath about you and just an aroma about– let me tell you, when you live a life that it’s clear that you just have God’s breath on your life, his wind at your back and his wisdom in your heart. David, successful in everything he did. And the Bible says that. Just successful in anything he did. Need someone to take care of sheep? I can do that. Need someone to play some music for the king? Well, that’s what Davids do best. What are you talking about? Right?

He’s like, well, I got 1,000 soldiers that need to be led into battle. I can do that. That giant’s talking crap about God. I’m going to kill him, that’s what I’m going to do. Show me something that David doesn’t do well. We need donkey delivery to the palace with cheese and wine. I love donkeys. Come on, donkey. Right?

I just love that kind of heart. If you show up in your life with a donkey in your hand, a towel around your arm, nothing’s too big, nothing’s too small. Watch out world. Watch out world. And that’s David.

When Jealousy Shows Up

But when it starts working, the sharks starts circling. When it starts working, the jealousy emerges. When you begin to be the favorite, because you just simply did what you said you were going to do and set yourself apart from the rest who are showing up to work still intoxicated and, oh, I need an hour before I can even get this day going, and on company time doing other things. But when you just live differently, there’s going to be attack.

Why? Jealousy. Why? The bright light makes other people be visibly not crushing it. Simply by virtue of you crushing it– I don’t have to know anything about David’s brothers. Just looking at David, I’m like, his brothers probably suck. You see what I’m saying? Like just, and they don’t help themselves out either. How to live a good life.


But the reality is as you do this, what you have to know, don’t be surprised. Don’t be like, what? What? Like you have to almost go into it knowing if I’m going to be a Daniel, if I’m going to be a David, if I’m going to be an Esther, if I’m going to live as though I have God’s spirit and blessing on my life, and it’s going to open doors and all this stuff, well, guess what, baby girl, there’s going to be people who are like, who do you think you are and da, da, da, dah.

And actually organizing. That’s what happened to Daniel. People organized attacks to try and bring him down because he was the king’s little favorite. And so you have to know, like Peter says, dear friends, don’t be surprised at these fiery trials you’re going through, as if something strange were happening to you. The more God does in your life, the more the enemy and other enemies will be attracted to you. So we don’t be surprised.

Don’t Be Spiteful

Second thing, don’t be spiteful. And that’s really hard. First one’s easy for me. Because I’m just like tend to have that defensive nature, like I go into it just assuming attack, assuming difficulty. But then when it comes, it’s really hard to not become spiteful by it, to not become retribution on my mind, to not start thinking about how to serve up some cold revenge and to have that kind of mentality of getting even.

But we must not, to quote Peter again, we must not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this. I love that, you were called to this. To what? To not bite back but to bless back, that you may inherit the blessing. Because how do we get a blessing? We give one. How do we get help? We give kindness. How to live a good life.

So he said, you’ve been called to this. Called to what? To receive blessings that come by not reviling when you feel like it, by not stinging when you have the opportunity, by not taking that knockout punch when you know you can. Because when you go down that road, there’s only dust.

Dig Two Graves

Confucius put it well. And I don’t often get to quote him in my talk. So I’m really excited about this. He said, before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves. There’s a self-destructive nature to lashing out. So it may work. But even when it does, it will harm you. Especially when it’s effective, it will take you out as well.

I guess what I’m trying to say is for David to kill Saul, he would have become Saul. And life presented many opportunities for him to kill Saul. What did David have thrown at him two times in the king’s bedroom? A spear. I think God has a sense of humor. Because after David went on the run– and we’ll talk about why he did that in a moment– God presented David with two different opportunities specifically where he had the chance to take Saul out and end this whole thing. How to live a good life.

And he knew that God wanted him to be King. So if I’m Saul– if I’m David, rather– I’m thinking to myself, God wants me to be King and he’s presented me with a chance to take Saul out. Because David hid in these refuge areas, these mountainous areas, caves, like in Getty and other places all over Israel. When we take a Fresh Life trip there eventually and we all go to Israel, you’ll get to see these places, OK?
So it’s amazing. You go into some of these caves and you see where David hid.

All He Did Was Win

Well, Saul had thousands of people that he enlisted to be on his Dog the Bounty Hunter crew to go and kill David. Because the spear obviously was not working. And his third attempt to kill David actually involved– well, third and fourth and fifth involved the Philistines, where he sent David on impossible missions, suicide missions. And David would just like win. Live a great story.

All he does is win, right? All he does is win-win. And whenever he is in the building, everybody’s hands go up, and they stay there. Because he’s slain his tens of thousands, right? And we already know that’s the song they were singing. His name was on everyone’s lips, all right? And that really bugged Saul. Everywhere he went, they were singing this song about David’s amazing exploits. So he would just make them more risky and more daring, like ridiculous stuff, like I need you to go do this. And David’s like, I can do that. And he just continued to thrive, right?

So eventually, he tries to kill David with the Philistines. And then the best one is he sends an execution squad to David’s house. And David’s wife tries to help him, of course. And so she says, sneak out the window. And she put a statue of David in the bed, with a wig sticking out of the top, like Ferris Bueller-style, right? And when they came and knocked on the door, they go, hey, we need to see David, the King sent us. She knows this is the execution squad, right? Live a great story.

Living a Great Story of His Own

And she goes, sorry, he’s sick in bed. And they go, oh, if we go back to King Saul, we can’t get him, he’s sick in bed. He goes, what do you mean? We’re going to kill him. We don’t care if he’s sick. Oh, right. So he says, go back. So they go back. This time, they kick the door down. I don’t care if he’s sick. And they go, and of course, it’s a statue. But at this point, David has had the chance– it’s a great story. I love it so much.

He’s like, you’re there to kill him. It hardly matters what state his health is in. You know what I’m saying? We don’t need him to be well to die. It’s just really great. Welcome to Management. How to live a good life.

All right. So David basically is able to get away. Saul chases them down. But one of the great things that happens is David’s hiding in a cave with a few of his friends. And Saul, by himself, comes in to relieve himself in the cool cave. Right? And the Bible says David’s hiding behind a boulder and Saul is literally right there. And his friends are like, bro, just take him out. And he’s like, I can’t do it because he’s God’s anointed. And if I’m going to become King, it’s not like this.

I Could Have

And I think God brought Saul into that cave to see what David would do. And David refrained from doing anything. Except he reached out and cut a little piece of his robe off and was able to say to Saul down the road, hey, I could have taken you out but I didn’t. I don’t want harm against you. All I want to do is bless you.

And Saul grabbed his jacket and realizes, oh, my gosh, how close he was to having his life ended. And so he said sorry and swore off wanting to hurt David for like five minutes, until he got mad again. And then he chased David down again.

So the Bible says, God took it even crazier this time. God caused David and Saul to be in the same place at the same time and caused a deep sleep to fall over Saul. Same word that’s used to describe Adam sleeping in the creation story, when Adam fell asleep and God brought Eve out of his rib. And this time, David comes in and God– they’re all out. They’re all snoring all over each other. David’s sleeping with his men, or Saul’s sleeping with his men in a circle. How to live a good life.

Spear Fishing

And his spear, his spear is by his head. And David’s friend Abishai is with him. And Abishai goes, David, let me just grab that spear and pin him to the ground. And then he kind of brags. He goes, I will not need to strike twice. I will take him out. Because like if you or I try to kill someone with a spear, like, oh, oh, dah, hold still. Abishai’s like, not me, I’ll take him out with one. And he won’t even make a noise. No one’s going to know. That’s like bravado.

Now David’s mighty men, it probably would have happened just like he said. You know, I will not need, I will not need two hits. He’s dead on one. And David says, I refuse to lay my hand against the one who God has called. He could throw a spear at me. I shall not return fire. I will not throw the spear back at him. How to live a good life.

So David takes Saul’s spear and his Nalgene, his water bottle, and waits till they wake up. And then he goes on top of a mountain. And as they’re coming out of the cave, yells down, I could have taken you out in the night. I didn’t. I’ve got your spear in my hand. And Saul’s like, where’s my spear? He’s like, I got your water bottle, too. Really, David’s human in this moment. I got your watter bottle, too. You thirsty?
And he didn’t become spiteful. All I’m trying to get you to see, he did not return fire. When the spear was thrown, he avoided the opportunity to become Saul 2.0. Because David didn’t see things like Saul did. David didn’t see like Saul saw. All Saul saw, that’s a tongue twister, pray for me, is what was in it for him.

Make a Big Difference

So even the song, you know, Saul has slain his thousands, but David has tens of thousands. He should have rejoiced. A good leader would rejoice at that math. A good leader would say, you know what, because if I exalt David and help David, now that’s just more Philistines killed. So you know what? If I bless him and he does this, then guess what? It’s like Saul 22,000. Because I’m able to bless through David and make a big difference.

And that’s not how he saw it. He saw it only for the prestige he could have and the blessing he could have. He didn’t care about the kingdom mentality of multiplication. And his eye had become totally skewed. Isn’t that what the text says? He began to eye David from that day forward. The actual Hebrew, could break it down this way, he began to see David only through a lens of envy. It’s like putting glasses on and that causes everything you see to be skewed. You’re not seeing what’s really there. You’re only seeing it through your inner eye being distorted.

So we have to be really careful how we see things and how we choose to read into things and how we choose to fill in thought bubbles over people’s heads. This is what the Bible calls assuming the best, not the worst. Because love, love does not default to evil. Love does not default to you probably meant this by it. Love defaults to a simple sweetness. Love defaults to not becoming spiteful and jaded.

Be the Light in Your World

Jesus put it this way, Luke 11. Your eye is like a lamp. It lights up the whole body. If you live wide eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. But if you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body becomes like a dank cellar. Isn’t that so vivid?

Because how do you see life? Are you just always waiting to be wounded and hoping to get heard and wanting to be left out and just assuming that no one wants to [INAUDIBLE]. That’s just going to lead to your life becoming small and possessive and territorial like a little dark cellar. How to live a good life.

But what a wonderful thing to be wide eyed and wonder. And you know what? God’s good and people are good. And you know what? I know that there’s going to be hard things, but I believe God– that’s a better way. Let’s live a life full of wide eyed wonder.

I don’t want to live squinty-eyed with distrust and always picking apart other things and they’re probably wrong and they’re probably bad. And they probably wear Spanx, and you know like– I just don’t want to live that way. Like George Herbert said, living well is the best revenge.
Live well. That’s the best way to get even. Don’t stoop to play at their level. Whenever I get criticized, I always think about that old saying, if you get down into the mud with pigs and wrestle, you’ll both get dirty but they’ll enjoy it. And so just to not play at that game. Let’s just let the best revenge be living that beautiful life. Is that helping you?

Yes. How to live a good life.

Don’t Become Sour

Third thing, don’t become sour. Don’t become sour by the bitterness of life. I’m saying don’t be jaded. And this is the tension. Because at first I said, don’t be surprised. So to not be surprised, you have to factor in a certain level of disappointment, right? But how do you do that while at the same time not letting that jade how you see every interaction? What is that, class? That’s called tension.

It’s a tension to manage. And so we have to know that. And you have to almost like build in, like I know there’s going to be times where I’m going to get hurt. I have to factor that in. But I’m not going to allow that to keep me from entering into relationships. I’m not going to let the fact that my heart was hurt one time cause me to not be vulnerable to you.

I love in the text, Jonathan says, David, here’s my bow, here’s my armor, God’s hands on your life. So guess what? I’m going to expose my weakness to you by taking off my armor. It was a symbol of covenant friendship, where he was saying, I’m not going to keep up pretense. I’m not going to keep up my– he said, I’m going to lay myself low, exposing the soft underbelly. I’m going to basically make myself vulnerable in friendship to you. A friendship can’t happen where there’s not that taking down of defense mechanisms, or letting you see who I really am, not who I just pretend I am.

Forming Friendships

And so that’s how friendship is formed, by vulnerability being fostered. But it’s easy to get hurt and to get bit and then to be twice shy and reluctant to ever expose who you really are to people.

So let’s ask the Holy Spirit to cause us to not become soured by the hard things we face, but to still have sweetness. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to come through fire but not smell like smoke. In Jesus’ name, amen. Do we receive that? All right.

And then, fourth. I’ll take your silence as a sign of my doing really well. Don’t be stupid. Don’t be stupid. And what does that mean? That means that we’re not going to be naive. We are, yes, going to be vulnerable. But we’re not going to be naive.

Relationships and Tension

What is this again? Tension. Welcome to relationships. Welcome to life. Tension. Not being stupid means David standing there and Saul throws the spear. What does David do? He didn’t stand there and let the spear get planted in his heart. He ducked. He ducked when he needed to duck. He got out of the city when he needed to get out of the city.

He hid in a cave when he needed to hid in a cave. And guess what? When he had the water bottle on the spear on top of the mountain, Saul says, you know what, I’m sorry, I love you, come down. Come down. We’ll be friends like we used to be. You’ll play your harp in my bedroom like you used to play the harp. We’ll be friends again. We’ll go to war again.

David goes, I’m not coming down, but you can send someone up. I honor you, King. I will serve you. I will never lay my hand against you. But I can’t be in the same room with you. Because I don’t trust you. I forgive you, because you just asked for it. And I love you. And in Jesus’ name, I bless you. But bro, we are way past frolicking to the sound of music in the field, all right?

Six times. Shame on me if I come back in your palace, sucker. Right? See what I’m saying? He never blasphemed the King, never dishonored the King. But the King had lost trust. How to live a good life.

Don’t Be Stupid

So when we say don’t be stupid, we’re saying not all consequences are instantly go away. Not all punishment is instantly go away. We’re saying we cannot be sour, we can give forgiveness, we can not be spiteful about it, but that doesn’t mean that at times there have to be boundaries. It doesn’t mean that at times, there has to be a loving no that is said.

It’s not loving to allow someone to sin against you. And so there comes a time, and the Spirit will lead you in good leadership and your life will steer you in making those difficult decisions. All right. In good counsel.

Don’t Stop

All right. Lastly, and we’re going to end with this thought, I’ve just loved preaching this so much. This has just been the funnest message. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Which is what I’m sure you’re saying, as I tell you I’m almost done. You’re saying, don’t stop. Just keep preaching. We like it so much. That’s why we’re just sitting here quietly.

No, it’s good. Good. Fine. No, it’s good. Worked all week on it. It’s OK.

Don’t stop. And what I mean by that is I love that David never just gives up. Well, fine then, you know. Is this how you treat your friends, God? Right? Oh, you anoint me with oil and then I almost get killed by the guy who I’m supposed to come into his office afterwards and do this job? And you know, but there’s never a trace of that on David. There’s never a sense of, you know what, God, call someone else. There’s never a sense of, it’s just too hard, I give up.

Keep Showing Up

In his life, there’s just this continual willingness to keep showing up, all the way to the end. So everything David did blessed God and David just continued to do it and continued to succeed and just continued to show up. Show up in relationship, show up for Jonathan, as best as he could, show up for Saul. And you really see that there was no envy in David. Because envy ultimately, as it starts out, it weeps when they rejoice, but it ends with rejoicing when they weep. But when Saul ultimately is killed, David’s response is to weep.

He says, how the mighty have fallen. There’s no sense of, I saw it coming, he got what he deserved. There’s a weakness. There’s a brokenness in David’s heart. Because he really did love Saul. And he really did love Jonathan. And he didn’t stop following God’s call. No matter what it cost him, no matter how hard it was for him, even when his own son rose up against him, he didn’t stop. How to live a good life.

Good Deeds Make a Difference

And you know what? Those good deeds, they made a difference. As William Shakespeare put it in The Merchant of Venice, how far that little candle throws its beams. So shines a good deed even in a naughty world.

So we live in a day, we live in an era when there’s going to be hard pushback to the beautiful things God’s called us to do. I say we do those good things anyway. Amen?

We invite you to watch the “Great News” video on this page and find out more about God’s love for you and how you can receive forgiveness and eternal life – today!

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The Prayer of Salvation

Jesus, I don't know You, and I don't know what Your plan is for me. But thank you for coming to die in my place. I'm sorry for anything I've ever done wrong in my life. I don't understand how You could ever forgive me, but if You really would, I would like to accept your free gift of grace and complete forgiveness. Please come into my life and take control, and help me trust You. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

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