A Spirit of Ingratitude
1Chr. 19:1 ¶ Some time afterward, King Nahash of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him.
1Chr. 19:2 David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun son of Nahash, for his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. When David’s servants came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites, to console him,
1Chr. 19:3 the officials of the Ammonites said to Hanun, “Do you think, because David has sent consolers to you, that he is honoring your father? Have not his servants come to you to search and to overthrow and to spy out the land?”
1Chr. 19:4 So Hanun seized David’s servants, shaved them, cut off their garments in the middle at their hips, and sent them away;
1Chr. 19:5 and they departed. When David was told about the men, he sent messengers to them, for they felt greatly humiliated. The king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”
David was trying to be kind to Hanun whose father had died. Disregarding the fact that his father had a good relationship with David, the young ruler allowed his inexperienced advisors to give him some bad advice. Sadly, he listened to them as they could only imagine that David had an ulterior motive. They did not know David and did not bother to know him, nor his messengers.
Unable to receive the consolations of David with gratitude, Hanun had David’s men seized and humiliated. Their ingratitude led to an over reaction on their part which in turn led to war. David had wanted to show a simple act of kindness and the stubbornness and pride of the young leader resulted in the death of thousands.
How often do we read something into someone’s behavior that simply is not there? And then we react in a way that results in further destruction!
I have to confess that early on in our marriage I used to try to “read into” my husband’s behavior. Surely he meant something by the way in which he was acting (or not acting). The problem with this was that I was usually wrong. Generally there was nothing insidious going on, but instead, he was just going about his business not thinking about how I may interpret his behavior. I could either jump to conclusions about his attitude and behavior, or accept at face value that there was nothing to interpret. I learned to accept him with gratitude and not a reaction from over thinking everything.
What about our relationships with our friends? It seems that we can also jump to conclusions about peoples’ motives when it comes to relationships with others. It’s sad to say that in the church we may even respond in this way. We are certain that people are acting or reacting in particular ways because they have some kind of motivation to do you harm. David had no intention of harming Hanun. He wanted to show him kindness and sympathy. There are people around us, our friends and loved ones who often want to show us kindness and yet they are rebuffed because we cannot accept what they have to offer. The result is that everyone gets hurt.
Our distrust of leadership may also have cataclysmic results. When we begin to second guess every decision of leaders and wonder if there is a secret conspiracy behind their activities we will become just like Hanun. His advisors went from a man showing kindness to his motivation being to “search and to overthrow to spy out the land.” This was never on David’s mind! He thought they were friends and yet, their wildest imagination of a major conspiracy got the best of them and they intentionally humiliated the very ones who had come to bring them help. Realizing they had become “odious” to David, Hanun went and hired an outside army to come and protect them. This failed and thousands lost their lives.
We may not be in the business of killing one another physically these days in response to a spirit of ingratitude, but we may be in the business of destroying thousands of relationships by our attitudes. One bad attitude and response can have a ripple effect that will destroy hundreds or even thousands. The result for Hanun was a shattered kingdom. The result for us may be a shattered marriage, broken children, lost friendships, or even a divided church.
Was it worth it for Hanun to jump to conclusions and humiliate David’s servants?
God’s people should seek out the best in one another and not try to find a conspiracy story hidden in every behavior or action. With a spirit of gratitude let us accept the love and generosity we should be showing to one another. If not, we may miss out one what God is sending our direction by simply having a spirit of ingratitude.
Lord, thank you for what you have done in my life. Please, give me eyes to see and a spirit to accept what you send my direction. Amen.