The Insidiousness of Suspicion

Now after this Nahash the king of the Ammonites died, and his son reigned in his place. And David said, ‘I will deal kindly with Hanun the son of Nahash, for his father dealt kindly with me.’ So David sent messengers to console him concerning his father. And David’s servants came to the land of the Ammonites to Hanun to console him. But the princes of the Ammonites said to Hanun, ‘Do you think, because David has sent comforters 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?’ So Hanun took David’s servants and shaved them and cut off their garments in the middle, at their hips, and sent them away; and they departed. When David was told concerning the men, he sent messengers to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. And the king said, ‘Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown and then return. When the Ammonites saw that they had become a stench to David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent 1,000 talents of silver to hire chariots and horsemen from Mesopotamia, from Aram-maacah, and from Zobah. They hired 32,000 chariots and the king of Maacah with his army, who came and encamped before Medeba. And the Ammonites were mustered from their cities and came to battle. When David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army of the mighty men. And the Ammonites came out and drew up in battle array at the entrance of the city.” 1 Chronicles 19:1-9

My oh my! What a conflagration escalates from one misunderstood kind gesture on the part of king David! Thirty-seven tons of silver spent, tens of thousands of troops mustered, and eventually almost 50,000 men killed over misplaced, unreasonable suspicion of another’s intent! When I think the worst of others, when I seek and listen to only one opinion and react in jaded, hasty judgment, I am in danger of not knowing the whole picture, and allowing a limited, even perverted perspective to determine my next steps. When self is placed at the center, and everything revolves around me, my needs, my rights, I can become myopic in my view of others, suspecting their motives, judging their intentions, twisting their innocent words to mean what they do not. One misunderstanding leads to fast inflammatory talk leads to roiling emotion and no understanding at all– ears are closed to reason because touchiness and offense trump all.

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“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?… How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell… Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Luke 6:37-38; James 4:1;3:5-6,13-17

Father, You are reasonable and the embodiment of truth. Grant me wisdom that is from above, where no selfish ambition or agenda taints and no suspicion distorts. Make me not only open to reason, but willing to initiate, full of sincere mercy and peace, reasoning together with others.

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