One day King David decided to do a head count of all the children of Israel and the Bible says that God got very angry with him. I don’t know why David decided to do the head count in the first place, but my deduction is that David failed to guard his heart and this gave the enemy a chance to tempt him. In fact, in 1Ch 21:1 the Bible says that “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”
We all know that when our hearts are not well we are easily defeated by the enemy.
Obviously, in numbering the Israelites David was seeking for some sort of assurance about his national strength. This kind of attitude breeds pride in a man’s heart and it greatly displeased God that David of all people should seek to rely on the numerical strength of the Israelites instead of the God who had delivered him from all his enemies.
All of Israel knew that one night God brought Abraham out from his tent and told him to try and count the stars. God told Abraham that He would multiply his offspring and that they would become as uncountable as the stars of heaven. When Abraham heard God’s words he did not try to count the stars. He simply believed what God told him, and his faith pleased God.
Ever since that time it was an ordinance in Israel to believe in that promise of God to Abraham. Even when the children of Israel would go astray, somehow they never wavered from the belief that they were special because of the promise that God gave to Abraham – that He would multiply his offspring as the stars of heaven and that He would bless them.
In the same way, the Church is also expected to walk by faith and God is not pleased when we are not walking by faith. We might take it lightly, but we see that God was so angry with David that He punished him.
Depending entirely on God seems like very strange language nowadays. We keep hearing false doctrines that challenge us to be self-sufficient and self-made men and women. Just the other day I had a preacher say: “Money brings respect!” He continued, “Abraham bequeathed gold and material wealth to his children; what are you going to leave to your children?” I have also heard: “It is a shame for a full-bearded father to not know what his family is going to have for lunch!” We look down on the person who has no ‘drive’ in him or the one who is not ‘making money’. In the Church today we hear all kinds of language that is full of human pride though the speakers are hardly aware of it. The poor and weak are mercilessly bashed in the Church.
One of the worst things that have invaded the Church today are Christians calling themselves ‘motivational speakers’. There is nothing spiritual about being a motivational speaker; that is simply the spirit of the world. A motivational speaker does not build up people in their spirits; he builds up their egos.
This disease of self-sufficiency is deeply entrenched particularly in our generation and in the developed world. There are people of God who have peace only when their bank accounts or their businesses are running well. Others stock their houses, cupboards and kitchens with all the stuff they ‘need’; and then they begin running ‘on a budget’. They become very strict, and every coin must be accounted for. If a cog breaks off somewhere in their well-organised world they react in the most unpredictable manner.
But no. We are not to walk by our own strength nor by depending on the things that we have. In fact, if we have anything we should live as if we don’t have that thing. That is what the Bible says!
Where is the faith of the woman whose floor pot and her jar of oil did not run dry during the famine in Elijah’s days? It is amazing the kind of twisted faith we have today – faith in ourselves!
I have a beautiful piece of land situated right by the lake and I have there a small house that I have been trying to finish building for years but to no avail. I knew I had a problem the day I realized that every time I stepped onto ‘my’ property I would feel a sense of deep satisfaction, even pride. I immediately cried out to God and I am happy to say that today that plot of land and the house mean absolutely nothing to me.
I am not saying we should not be organised or that we should not work or that we should not own property, but I am hardly talking about those things here. I am talking about walking by faith. In fact, for me I would rather live with a person who does not know what his family is going to have for lunch but who is guarding his heart and walking humbly before His God than a person who thinks that he is anything because of what he is or has.
Human pride is so difficult to discern and that is why we should keep awake spiritually so we don’t get tempted like King David was.
Walking by faith is a far greater challenge than many of us think. It is not simply believing God for a healing. It is a life laid at the altar. It is a deliberate denial of self. No self-made man or woman here. That stuff is for the world. In Church we are to trust fully in Christ. There are some worldly people who deride that as laziness. True, there are lazy Christians, but again that is not the subject that I am addressing here.
But no amount of self-initiative or work on my part should make me think that I have anything to boast in. In fact, the more I become ‘successful’ in this world the more humble I become in the realization that it is not I but rather it is God who has made me to be what I am – for His own glory. I shall therefore value and respect my brethren and fellow men all the more.