One hundred and fifty years ago, the cattle boom was taking over the western United States. Cowtowns were popping up across this state as thousands of young men were joining crews to push longhorns up to them. The wore their boots, chaps and hats. Rode good horses with good saddles and gear. They carried lasso’s, wore spurs, and trailed the cattle. Now 150 years later, the descendants of these men, in much the same fassion, use/wear/pack the same gear to do the same goal. Though separated by many years, they look the exact same and their stories are very similar.
The same repitition in the history of the cowboy is often seen in scripture.
David and Ahab were two men with the same story. Both men took something that didn’t belong to them. Both men unjustly dealt with the rightful (and righteous) owner. Both men needed a prophet to show them the errors of their ways.
When Ahab was in his palace in Jezreel, he saw something he wanted. In the same way that David spied Bathsheba bathing and desired her (2 Sam. 11.2-5), Ahab saw a vineyard that would suit his purposes well and wanted it (1 Kings 21.1-2). When Naboth refused to give up his garden, Jezebel went to work. Jezebel came from a culture where the King took what he wanted from the people, but the King of God’s people was to serve and lead the people. Jezebel arranged for Naboth’s death, and just as it did in Uriah’s, a letter was the catalyst.
With Naboth (and Uraiah) out of the way in shady circumstances, the King is free to enjoy the spoils free of guilt and remorse. God, however, would not let them rest with their immorality. He sent Nathan the prophet to David (2 Sam. 12.1) and Elijah, our hero, to confront Ahab. (1 Kings 21.17-19)
“So you have found me, my enemy?” It is amazing what a guilty conscience can do in the face of confrontation. Elijah has gone from his troublemaker (18.16) to now his enemy (21.20). With Elijah before him, Ahab understands that his actions are contrary to what God desired and he is going to take it out on the messenger.
Confrontation is hard to do for a people who are called to ‘love one another’ (John 13.34-35). Amongst Christians, confrontation is often neglected. We don’t confront one another concerning our attitudes, actions, hypocrisy, or theology. We refuse because, as our logic goes, “it is more loving to let them go.” Now, hear me in this, I don’t think we should go out and confront everyone and everything, but Elijah and Ahab have history. Ahab is in a place of leadership, and Elijah in a place of holding him accountable.
Every one of us need a few Elijah’s in our lives, because every now and then, everyone of us is an Ahab. Nathan came to David and pointed out his sin. Elijah came to Ahab and showed his. Who is it, that you will listen too, who will point out the sin in our lives that we overlook. Sometimes sin becomes too common, sometimes its hidden to our own eyes, and sometimes we don’t even notice it…regardless, there is someone who sees the problem, the effect, or both and can call us on it. Elijah is that for Ahab. Nathan for David.
Some things to remember when confronting and accountability is needed:
- The message is given in love. The moment we feel attacked our defenses go up and we begin to make excuses, deflect responsibility, deny the event, or shut down completely. But if the message is given in love, approached with care, and bathed in compassion, we are much more open to correction. As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4.15: “…speaking the truth in love…” grows us up in Christ.
- The sin is given its due. Occasionally in our confrontations, in effort to be more loving or merciful, the sin, and its full effect, is never spoken of. Elijah points out to Ahab; “you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord…you have provoked me [God] to anger and have caused Israel to sin.” (21.20-22) The sin was pointed out and the effect was made known.
- The goal is repentance and reconciliation. David composed Psalm 51 after meeting with Nathan. Ahab tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, fasted, and humbled himself before God. (2 Kings 21.27-29) When Christian’s approach each other, correct each other, and hold each other accountable on doctrine, sin, or life, the goal of the meeting needs to be repentance and/or reconciliation. This is the ministry that Paul gives us in 2 Corinthians 5.19-20.
So what about you? Do you have someone in your life who adequately see’s who you are and where you fall short? Is there someone to celebrate with you when you are victorious? Is there someone who cares about you enough to confront you? If you don’t have that, look for it? Search it out? Because every one of us makes mistakes and falls short, sometimes we even know, but Ahab and David needed someone to help them out, and each became a better man for it.