I have a confession to make. I was a “not like other girls” girl.
In my defense, it was when I was a teenager. The “I’m so different, not like other girls” culture bled from Tumblr to Facebook in those days and I was infected. Add that to my being a Christian, and you had an insufferable disaster on your hands.
I didn’t drink! I didn’t do drugs or party. I didn’t have a boyfriend and I had never had sex. I thought that meant I was so different, so unique, so worthy of applause.
If you had asked, I would have admitted that I had other flaws. But I didn’t commit the big sins, so didn’t that count for a lot?
I think that David would disagree. And it’s wild, because in 1 Samuel 24, he’s in a position to feel awfully proud of himself.
He’s been camping in the wilderness for months, on the run from King Saul, who hates David simply because he’s a better man than him. And in return, David has done nothing.
He hasn’t fought back. He hasn’t started riots or begun a whistleblower campaign.
He has sat and taken everything Saul has thrown at him quietly, trusting God to take care of it all.
I admit that if I were David, I would be patting myself on the back when no one was looking.
But David was so good and trusting that when he finds himself in a cave with an unsuspecting Saul, he still does nothing.
It was a perfect opportunity. He could have killed Saul and finally gone home to his wife Michal. He could have threatened the king, exchanging Saul’s life for a guarantee of the throne, or at least his safety!
But David did none of those things. Well, he did do something. When Saul wasn’t looking, David chopped off a hunk of his robe.
It was simultaneously the most random and the most harmless choice David could have made. But David felt sick to his stomach.
“The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.”verse 6
I almost roll my eyes every time I read this, because come on, dude. Nothing happened! You’re still a good guy!
But then I think again. I’m speaking from my very human point of view. David had a really deep connection with God.
What if he has a point?
“Let Me search you and know your heart.”
One of the things that irritates me the most about modern, conservative-leaning religion is its over-emphasis on and demonization of little things.
Every single little thought or action could send you to hell. The tiniest stud earring or the occasional donut or the brief moment of desire. After all, they say, all Eve had was one tiny bite of fruit.
But maybe we bristle at these statements and at this 1 Samuel story because we, like they, are focused on the thing itself, which may or may not be inherently wrong.
Maybe if we dig a little deeper, down to the intent behind the action, things will start to get clear.
Because cutting Saul’s robe probably wasn’t a sin. Just like apples, donuts, and stud earrings aren’t sin.
What is sin is the desire to humiliate someone, to hurt someone, to lash out at someone—and then actually doing it.
What is sin is pride.
What is sin is selfishness.
What is sin is knowing God’s commands and deciding that you’re in charge instead.
Maybe with this story, God isn’t warning us to be hyperaware and fearful of every little thing we do. Maybe He’s reminding us to search our hearts and dig out the stuff that needs cleaning up.
Better yet, He’s asking us to surrender and allow Him to do it.
And He promises that as He searches us, and teaches us, and grows us, He will lead us in the way everlasting.
What do you think? Should Christians sweat the small stuff?