We learned in our history books that Elbridge Gerry reshaped a voting district in Massachusetts into the shape of a salamander in order to benefit his political party. When that happens now we call it “Gerrymandering.” From TV viewing we learned that if you can fix a complicated machine with a paper clip and rubber-band, you “MacGyvered” it. In the Bible we meet some characters whose names have become synonymous with their follies that resulted in misery.
Saulerate: to see successful people around you as your competition instead of your friends. David was a great help to King Saul of Israel. David defeated Goliath and led other successful military victories against the Philistines. However, when the people began to praise David for his heroics, Saul became jealous. Saul’s spirit became dark and vengeful. David was serving his king. Rather than seeing David’s success as benefiting the kingdom, the king saw David as competition and was miserable. See 1 Samuel 18:5-9.
The Haman Maneuver: to focus on the one bad thing in life to the exclusion of all the good things. Haman was the right hand man of Xerxes of Persia. The king granted Haman authority to rule in matters of state. Haman was enjoying banquets in which only he dined with the king and Queen Esther. He was a man of power, prestige, and wealth. People bowed to him as he walked the streets. Everyone bowed, that is, except Mordecai. In Haman’s own words, concerning all the blessing he could count, “All this avails me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate.” (Esther 5:13). Prestigious Haman was miserable.
Jonahsitus: a sickly condition distinguished by the inability to enjoy grace and mercy. Preachers generally desire for their messages to cause penitence in the hearer, leading to mercy and grace being shone upon them. For Jonah, when he preached, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” that is what he wanted to happen. As it happened, the people of Nineveh repented, came to know God’s favor, and were spared. This outpouring of love “Displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.” Jonah 4:1). Jonah was miserable.
RYRing: a mimicking of the behavior of a Rich Young Ruler, who allowed his prosperity to become a prison. This man of Luke 18:18ff wanted to follow Jesus and seek eternal life. However, he allowed his business with its financial success to limit him. He felt trapped by his goods and could not shed them in order to follow Jesus. Instead of following Jesus, he went away – goods intact, but miserable.
Solomonize: giving in to the compulsion to try everything before embracing the one good thing. The author of Ecclesiastes concluded that all that matters in life is to fear God and keep his commandments (12:13). The author encourages others to embrace our creator in the days of youth. Solomon misspent the greater part of his life seeking for fulfillment in wine, women, material achievement, and fame. That greater part of his life was miserable.
Rejoice in the success of your friends. Do not let the bad dissipate all that is good. Be gracious enough to enjoy mercy when it shines on others. Use prosperity rather than letting it use you. Identify the best and most important thing and embrace it early. Failure to do so could end in your misery.
Cecil May III and his wife Patti serve the Lord in North Little Rock, Arkansas where Cecil is the longtime preacher for the Parkway Church of Christ