Friday, June 17, 2022
According to Greek mythology the Phrygian king Midas asked a favor of the gods, and they agreed to grant him anything that he desired. The king decided to make the best of their offer. He asked that whatever he touched in the future be turned into gold. The wish was granted, but the consequences were severe! He placed his hand upon a rock, and immediately it became a huge chunk of priceless gold. He laid his hand on his staff, and it, too, became a rod of precious gold. At first the king was overcome with joy, and he returned to his palace as one of the most favored kings. He sat at his dinner-table, and every item of food that he touched turned into solid gold. Then he realized that this foolish wish would cause him to die in the midst of his newly found riches, and he fearfully remembered these ominous words: “The gods cannot take back their gifts.” He then begged the gods to restore him and deliver him from the curse of greed.
This was the scenario for King Saul. He was mad at his enemies. He took seriously his position as their leader. He understood his responsibility to protect and defend. But he was foolish.
1 Samuel 14:24 “Now the men of Israel were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be any man who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food.”
There was a disconnect between Saul’s intentions and his actions. His intentions were to emphasize to his army the seriousness of their duty and to keep them focused on their mission. His actions deterred the soldiers from that mission. To build the resolve of the men, he minimized their resources. He told them they could not eat until they had put in a full day of service. He forgot that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As a result of his foolish action, the soldiers grew weak and unable to fulfill their duties. Saul would later have to deal with the regret of what he said when he discovered that his own son Jonathon had broken the oath and should be put to death.
Let’s think about the things we say that we wish we had never said. I’m sure we all live with regret over words spoken in haste or anger. Some of us are just plain foolish and don’t think about what we say before we say it. Remember the old saying – “Think twice, speak once.” That’s not normal for me, but it is inexcusable because it is foolishness. We have all said and done things that we thought were going to turn out for good and they turned out badly. We have all had our motives brought into question based on the decisions we made because we foolishly failed to think through the options. We even excuse some of those words and choices by saying we have a unique learning style that requires us to think out loud. But Proverbs says, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Or listen to these words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes – “Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips. At the beginning his words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness—and the fool multiplies words. No one knows what is coming…” We must all learn to make sure the motor of our mind is running before we attempt to put the tongue in gear.
But what about all the hurts we have already caused? Can we ever overcome the damage that’s already been done? Our enemy the Devil certainly has a great ability to improve our memory when it comes to failures, doesn’t he? Regret can eat us up. But that regret is the product of faithless forgiveness. We may claim that we understand the forgiveness of God, but regret proves otherwise. If we really believe that the forgiveness of God is really real, then we will act like it.
Let me illustrate. Marjorie Holmes tells this story in an article entitled “Heart to Heart” in an issue of Today’s Christian Woman. “One day, while I was grieving over some past failures, I received a letter from a friend who told me how she and her granddaughter had been watching a plane skywrite. The little girl was puzzled when the words began disappearing, but suddenly piped up, “Maybe Jesus has an eraser!” In her innocent wisdom I realized that just as skywriting disappears, Jesus wipes away all things I so bitterly regret. No matter how much we mature as Christians, and try desperately to compensate, memories of our own failures can rise up and haunt us. But, with God’s forgiveness, they will fade away—Jesus does have an eraser.”
As we make the changes necessary to stop the foolishness, God will eliminate the regrets of the past. Watch your words – trust His forgiveness – and move on.