In the World, but Not Of the World

In the World, but Not Of the World

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    It is God’s will that we are in the world, but not of it. To choose the Word’s way over the world’s way has been man’s responsibility through the ages. And it’s in His Word that God constantly clarifies for His people how to live the Word’s way. Though there are many great examples of individuals in God’s Word who chose to live the Word’s way instead of according to the attitudes of the world, we will focus on the example of Abigail in I Samuel 25 to define what it means to live in the world without allowing the world to live in us. At times Abigail was surrounded by the negative circumstances of the world, but she didn’t allow the world to direct her—she chose to live the Word’s way.
    Abigail built her life on the Word. She chose to make the Word of God preeminent in her mind, as evidenced by the scripture that declares she was “a woman of good understanding” (I Samuel 25:3). She was in the world but not of the world. Likewise, no matter what environment we are in, it is the Word of God living in our minds that keeps us from being of the world. The renewed-mind principles operated in I Samuel 25 and presented in Romans 12 will show us how we can keep the world out of our lives as we build a good understanding of the Word and walk powerfully like Abigail.
    The context leading up to the record of Abigail sets the stage for understanding the circumstances of her first encounter with David and the worldly pressures driving David’s behavior. In addition to grieving for the loss of his trusted counselor Samuel, David was on the run with about six hundred men who had joined him in exile. They were hiding from King Saul, who was trying to kill David because Saul was afraid that David would replace him as king of Israel (I Samuel 18). The adversary uses either pressure or pleasure to move us off of God’s Word, and at this time there was immense pressure in David’s life.
    After Samuel was buried, David arose and headed toward the wilderness of Paran, where he and his men provided the service of protecting the sheep and the servants belonging to a man by the name of Nabal. Under David and his men’s protection, not one sheep was lost. During the festive time of sheepshearing that followed, it was the custom to have an open invitation for neighbors, travelers, and wanderers to come. Also, it certainly would have been proper for Nabal to welcome David and his men with great hospitality because of the quality protection they provided.
    This is why David sent ten messengers to Nabal with greetings of peace, in the expectation that at such an abundant and festive time an acknowledgment would be made to him and his men. Not only was it customary, but they also deserved this and would greatly benefit from the blessing this rich man could provide. The following verses contain Nabal’s reply.
I Samuel 25:10 and 11:
And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, Who
is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.
Shall I then take my bread, and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shearers, and give
it unto men, whom I know not whence they be?
    Rather than doing what was right and compensating David for the service he and his men had provided, Nabal verbally abused the messengers and greatly insulted David by accusing him of being a runaway servant. David was faced with a choice: react to the circumstances or make a conscious decision to walk the Word’s way. We will see later that it would take more than one thought and one action to get David to the point where the Word was preeminent in his mind.
    This contrast between the Word and the world, and between good and evil, is present throughout the narrative of I Samuel 25 and is emphasized earlier in verse 3, where God introduces the man Nabal and his wife, Abigail.
I Samuel 25:3:
Now the name of the man
was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish [hard, harsh, cruel] and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb.
    The Word records that Nabal was “churlish and evil in his doings,” while Abigail was a woman of “good understanding.” Nabal was “such a son of Belial” that a man couldn’t even speak to him (I Samuel 25:17). In fact, “Belial” means without value or worthless. In direct contrast to Nabal’s foolishness and worthlessness stands Abigail’s good understanding of God, which was of superior quality and great worth.
    Think about Abigail: given in marriage to a man she could never truly fellowship with or pray with—and never worship God alongside. We can genuinely say that she was married to a worldly and evil man. And if the pressures in her marriage were not enough, David was coming against her household as enemies.
I Samuel 25:21 and 22:
Now David had said, Surely in vain have I kept all that this
fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good.
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that
pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
    David had gotten to the point where he was ready to destroy everything male of Nabal’s household. David was being tempted to break fellowship with God; the adversary was pressuring him to go the world’s way, to seek revenge and his own justice. David was on his way to shed innocent blood; he was determined to avenge himself and fight his battle.
    But Abigail knew that was not God’s will—she was a woman of good understanding. Rather than shrink in fear and let David’s potential sin shape her behavior, Abigail kept thinking God’s Word. And so it is here that she made haste to serve in speaking for God….

This is an excerpt from the May/June 2013 issue of The Way Magazine.
Copyright© 2013 by The Way International. All rights reserved.
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