Series: "Who Are the Heroes?"
Fill in the blank: A Picture is Worth a Thousand __________.
Even though pictures pack a powerful punch…in the PR business they talk about "optics"…words can be equally powerful. While there are moments when you don't need to say anything because the picture; the visual speaks for itself; words also are heavy with meaning. We have all experienced the power of a positive word spoken to us at the right time. We have also experienced the power of a negative word spoken to us at a time when we were most vulnerable.
For some of us, when we were younger, somebody ridiculed us. Somebody called us names. And we believed it and we held on to it and we shouldn’t have.
For some of us, when we were younger, grandma told us how talented we were and what a great singing voice we had. And we believed it and we held on to it and we shouldn’t have.
Words have meaning. Words have power.
Today, as we continue our look at lesser known people of the Bible, we're going to read two of the shortest, most powerful phrases a person can utter.
One of the utterers is someone you might have heard of - Jonathan.
The other utterer isn't even mentioned by name. He is Jonathan's armor- bearer.
Here's the context for what Jonathan and his armor-bearer say.
The Israelites are in trouble. The Philistines are their constant enemy. The best we know is by this time, the Israelite army is down to about 600 men. They hardly have any weapons. Pitiful is an understatement.
They are sitting on one side of a ravine. Steep on their side. Steep up the other side, too. On that other side is the Philistine army. Huge, ferocious, well-equipped. A battle looms in the air.
The great thing for Jonathan is as royalty - he is King Saul's son - royalty gets an armor-bearer. He has someone to go into battle with him, to fight alongside him, to look out for him. So he and his armor-bearer are sitting there and, without telling his father, the King, Jonathan says to his armor- bearer, "Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side."
So the armor bearer agrees to go check things out. They go and some Philistines see them and challenge them. What happens next is amazing. In hand-to-hand combat, Jonathan and his armor bearer defeat 20 Philistine warriors. Two defeat twenty.
What happens after that is equally amazing. The Bible says that God sends a spirit of fear and chaos throughout the entire Philistine camp. A fit of chaotic anxiety washes over them. Suddenly, hundreds and hundreds of Philistines are fighting each other. They are beating the snot out of each other. Jonathan and his armor bearer sit back and watch as these crazed Philistines kill each other. God delivers a great victory. God shows up powerfully in the lives of two men who trust Him.
Here, now, are the two powerful proclamations in this story.
#1: "IT MAY BE"
Let's read 1 Samuel 14:6:
Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few."
Some of you right now are resonating with those three simple yet powerful words. "It may be." Some of you are naturally inclined to it may be mindsets. It's how you're wired up.
Here's how that plays out. Some of you, when you see an opportunity where there's still not much flesh on its bones, you think it may be God wants me to jump at it. Some of you young people, you see someone being bullied at school, your mind flips to it may be God wants me to step in. Some of you are it may be kinds of people.
Almost 8 years ago, some faithful people said, "It may be God wants us to plant an Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Lenawee County." And He did. So they did. Several years after that, after considering what to do next, they said, "I may be that God doesn't want us to build a new facility. We don't know yet what He has in mind for a permanent home, but we aren't hearing Him calling us to build something new." And a couple of years after that, another faithful group of people said, "It may be that God is calling another church to fill this building." And so it goes, and so it is.
How many times and how many situations are we the beneficiaries of an it may be mindset? You might resonate with that mindset. It might come naturally to you.
#2: "I AM WITH YOU HEART AND SOUL"
Listen to 1 Samuel 14:7:
And his armor-bearer said to him, "Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul."
Go ahead and circle those three words, heart and soul. There's something I don't want you to miss. Jonathan's armor-bearer has to be with Jonathan. That is his job. That is his duty. He is obligated to say, "I am with you. Do what you need." He can't take a pass on this request.
Here's the piece I don't want you to miss. What the armor-bearer doesn't have to say is, "I am with you heart and soul." What are you going to think if you are Jonathan and you hear that? The armor-bearer goes beyond duty. He is pledging his life; all that is within him to Jonathan and his cause.
Make no mistake. These are life breathing words. And some of you resonate with these words. You are heart and soul people. You are loyal. You will do whatever you can, at whatever cost, to stand with someone you love and care for. You get behind people. You will help carry a burden. You will be the last man or woman standing. You're a heart and soul
Let's try something. Raise your hand of you're an it may be person. Next, raise your hand of you're an I am with you heart and soul person. Look at how different we are. Look at how God calls His church together.
So, what do we do about it? Here are two simple things to keep in mind.
These apply whether you're an it may be person or an I am with you heart and soul person.
First, build on it, but don't make it your permanent dwelling.
In other words, it may be people, instead jumping in with everything, you might want to be in a supporting role sometimes. Perhaps you can support someone else's dreams and visions and ideas.
And then you heart and soul people, perhaps you need to pay attention to the still, small voice of God and take the lead on something.
It's not a bad thing for it may be people to let something slide and for heart and soul people to let somebody stand on their own. Are you with me on that?
There's a danger when it may be people lock onto everything that comes their way. There's burn-out. Remember, not every good opportunity is a God opportunity.
Similarly, heart and soul people don't have to attach themselves to every cause. Sometimes people need to learn to stand on their own. There are other loyal people who can do what you do.
Build on these character strengths, but don't make them a permanent dwelling.
Second, learn from others.
It's always a good thing to learn from others; especially from the experience of others. That's why we're looking at 1 Samuel 14 today. The Bible is full of other it may be and heart and soul people. You read their stories and you learn from them. In fact, you can build on the little bit we've seen in Jonathan today. Jonathan has a special relationship with David, before he becomes King David. It is an amazing friendship. And the reason it is such an abiding relationship is because in that relationship Jonathan is a heart and soul friend. There is fluidity in Jonathan's character. At one point he is it may be, but with David he is heart and soul. At one point, Jonathan says to David, "Do what you need to do. I am with you." Jonathan makes himself available to God in however God wants to use him in the moment.
There is so much to learn from people in the Bible. So much. That's why we encourage Small Group Ministry. We learn and grow together.
Most of us are going to be like Jonathan's armor-bearer. The most important thing won't be if our names are remembered. The most important thing will be did we let God use our lives to make a difference for Jesus Christ? In the end, the name of Christ, and Christ alone, is the name that will be remembered forever.
Let's pray together:
Heavenly Father, thank you for your love for us. Thank you for guiding us into big things. Thank you for the people who stand beside us, heart and soul. Thank you that we can stand beside others, heart and soul. As we leave this place of worship, returning to our homes and schools and places of work, use us in a great way. We love you, Father God, and we're thankful for your Son, Jesus, who made a way for us to go to heaven. We ask these things in his name. Amen.