Christian: Stop Saving Yourself
The apostolic Faith is founded upon the idea that Jesus saves us from our sin. 1 Peter 2:24 declares, that “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Though we delight in the idea of God saving us from our sins, we struggle to live like saved men and women.
Instead of gazing towards heaven, we focus upon our problems, our surroundings, and our circumstances. We believe today measures the quality of our life; we regularly seek to get life to where we think it should be. We seek to save ourselves. We put the overbearing mom on the PTA in her place with a gossip attack, spreading rumors with the speed of heat. We cut down our wayward brother with a steady stream of anger filled snide remarks. And, we spend the night attacking the FB page and twitter account of the company that unjustly fired us a few hours earlier. We seek to be our own salvation.
David attempts to save himself in 1 Samuel 25. He had been watching Nabal’s 4,000 sheep and goats acting as a “wall “ to the shepherds “by night and by day.” The shepherds testify that David and his men were, “very good to us (15).” Yet when David asks Nabal to keep with tradition and feed his troops along with the rest of those who helped him during the shearing days, Nabal rudely rebuffs the future king. David responds to the insult with anger. The text says, “And David said to his men, “Every man strap on his sword (13).” He intends to on kill every male on Nabal’s property. Thankfully before David gets to Nabal and commits senseless murder, Abigail gets to David and reminds him of truth.
She stops David from working out his own salvation. She tells David in verse 31 that he should spare Nabal to avoid the grief and pains that come from, “working salvation himself.” David concurs saying Abigail kept him “from working salvation with my own hand!” Though the word “salvation” can be translated “avenged,” the Hebrew word niph usually means to “receive help.” This is the same word used Psalm 116:6 to convey the idea of God saving us. The verse reads: “The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.” In short, the battle for David’s heart was a battle for salvation. Would David save David? Or would God save David?
We face this exact same battle weekly, daily, and perhaps hourly. Will we trust God to save us? Will we trust God to make things right? Or will we grab our phones, our digital keyboards, and our tongues and go save ourselves? From where does our salvation come?
The source of our salvation for life’s little problems reveals the source of our salvation for all of life. Those who cannot regularly trust God to walk them through a rough PTA meeting, a broken relationship, or a low bank account have not yet trusted Christ to save them from sin. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones notes,
[Christians] are meant to have, a joy that can face the cross, yes, and the weakness and the apparent desertion, of those whom we trusted, and on those whom we relied (Assurance of Our Salvation.
Those who trust in Christ possess the joy of Christ and refuse to be their own salvation.
Admittedly, we all struggle at this at times as did David. In 1 Samuel 24:12, David forgives King Saul murderous plots. David boldly proclaims, “May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you.” David looks to the Lord for salvation. And then we turn the page and see him taking up swords over some food.
How do we handle our hearts when the lose focus? How do we help encourage others who have fallen from the mountain of faith into the valley of anger? We follow Abigail’s lead and remind them of the salvation of God and of the consequences of sin.
When Abigail confronted David, she reminds David of God’s promises. She tells him not to workout his salvation because God had bound David in his heart. God defeats David’s enemies casting them away like a rock flying out of a sling (1 Sam 25:4). She reminds David that he will be prince of Israel. God’s promise remains sure, regardless of David’s circumstances and regardless of whether or not people give David food. David will be king because God fights for him.
The same truth applies to us. Our hope is not our circumstances. Our hope is the promise reigning with Christ in heaven. Nothing our neighbors, family members, or employers do to us can keep us from heaven. Nothing they do can thwart, break, or destroy God’s plan for us. We will be with him in paradise. He will vindicate us. He will stand by his people.
God stands by David and Abigail. As soon as David puts his sword away, Nabal has a stroke and dies. David then marries Abigail, saving her from financial and social ruin. In short, God makes all things right. Friends do we believe God is big enough and powerful enough to defend us when other people attack us, criticize us, and insult us? Do we trust God to save us or must we always have the last word?
Next, Abigail reminds David of the consequences of sin. The shedding of innocent blood would stain David’s ascension to the throne. Though David would have forgotten the insult, the consequences of the sin would have remained. His reign would have been undermined even before it began. And when David does stumble into sin with Bathsheba, the remainder of his rule feels the consequences of sorrow and suffering that follow David’s sin.
Friends when we find ourselves viewing sin to be the means of our salvation, we too should remember that the wages of sin our death (Rom. 6:23). The sin that promises us the hope of salvation is nothing more than a nicely painted anvil tied to our neck that will take our soul to the bottom of the sea of death. And while Christ offers forgiveness from our sins, our lawless actions are accompanied by consequences that last a lifetime. God forgives divorce but our children will spend the rest of their life bouncing between two homes. God forgives greed, but we may spend the rest of our lives paying of credit card debt. God forgives our cruel words but we may never spend another holiday with our sibling. God forgives those who attempt to be their own salvation. But a life lived free from the sorrow of sin is far better than the life lived under the consequences of sin.
We should not save ourselves. We should remember that God saves and that our salvation created on the assembling line of sin leads to death. We should rest in the salvation of the Lord. Do you?