This month’s news is Greece and its possible exit from Euro currency. Without going into economic politics, I am struck by the style of leadership. Populism is making its way on the international scene disguising what already exists. Promises that appeal to many and afterwards can not be met, or just won’t be met. Opportunities break into scene very often, and we miss them or just waste them, deceiving others or even ourselves.
In the Bible there are many cases of devaluated opportunities and populisms. I will focus in two opposite kings, Saul and David. Saul was a king according to the people’s heart, as most Bible commentaries agree, in contrast with David, who says the Bible was a king according to God’s heart (1 Sam. 13:13-14; Acts 13:22).
King Saul was a populist, pure appearance. The tallest man among the people, the strong, the best good looking and apparent man. Many times we get carried away by appearances, pretending that we are not, thinking that the “people” acclaims things they do not know. At the moment of his public “appointment” he hided himself between leather flasks (1 Sam. 10:22) demonstrating his lack of strength and confidence in God, who had chosen him, of course, according to the people’s desire.
Saul learned to take decisions, but erring. He did not see the principle behind each opportunity. When he was to be firm, he wasn’t, disobeying divine commands and instructions, and when he had to be patient and await, he did the opposite, he showed determined. During 40 years of kingdom hood Saul showed he never learned the lesson. His decisions were driven by appearances, like the people did, and not by principles.
David was the oposite. He was working hard shepherding the flock and doing a thankless job, in contrast with his brothers, when Samuel came looking for him by divine command to annoint him as the new king of Israel. David saw the opportunities and took brave decisions that oftenly were not popular, but were according to God’s principles. When David could kill Saul, inexplicably for his followers, he forgave Saul’s life. When David had to fight against Amalekites not being yet the “official” king and with a few hundreds of men, he won the battle.
Bot kings made mistakes, but the difference between them was always the spirit and reasons for their decisions. The appearance and image, what people would say on the one hand versus doing the will of God, even when none else may understand why should I miss an opportunity.
Apostle Paul said, highlighting the underlying idea: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7-8 NIV).
Moses, precursor of Christ, may have been Pharaoh and set Israel free, but his plan was truncated. The pomp and pageantry turned into a desert and a handful of sheep. His loss resulted in gain at the end.
Christ Himself is our ultimate example. In the week of passion he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, hailed as King and, thinking humanly, that would have been a good idea. Talking about His sufferings Peter said: “This shall never happen to you!” (Mt. 16:22 NIV). However, the “missed opportunity” of Jesus has been our gain. When duty and following the principles can may become unpopular, an apparent devaluation of opportunities is, for the Christian, his gain. But doing cliches, as happens in Greece, taking populistic decisions that can not be met or maintained later, is following Saul’s path. It’s doing what you think people will appreciate, and not what God really values. Then, we do referendums and we want to involve the people to avoid the responsibility of leadership, and finally, the calamity we tried to avoid returns even worse. What decisions are you making in your life and family? Are these decisions to pretend you are in a better social status, with a nice car and a nice house? Or do you follow divine principles despite the opportunities that can be lose?
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