HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
1 Samuel chapter 17
I don’t suppose any of you have faced one-on-one combat with a ten-foot Philistine, have you? I didn’t think so. And outside of battlefields, we don’t get to go around popping people in the forehead with rocks. So you might think the story of David and Goliath is entertaining, but not very relevant. But here’s the thing: there are all kinds of giants in the world, and most of them don’t wear armour or throw spears. I wonder what the giant is in your life?
- Family stress?
- Paying the bills?
Is there a giant lurking around your life? For the church, the giant these days is how to reach a generation that says it’s “spiritual but not religious” and lists its religious affiliation as “none.” I’ve been fighting that giant for twenty-five years.
Well, David knew a thing or two about fighting giants. I’m not sure how he felt inside, but he put himself forward to take on Goliath. He picked up five smooth stones from the brook. That’s all it took. Actually, it only took one of the stones, but let me give you five stones today, just in case. Here they are five smooth stones, five tips for fighting the giants in your life and in the church.
David’s brothers, who were soldiers in the army, made fun of him. After all, he was the youngest brother, fit only to bring their lunch and tend their sheep. They just laughed at him. And King Saul said to David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced.” If David had listened to the naysayers, here’s what would have happened: he’d have humbly stepped back, picked up his brothers’ empty lunch boxes, and headed home. And the whole history of Israel would have turned out different.
Naysayers are everywhere. It’s not hard to find people who will tell you-you’re not smart enough, or strong enough, or good enough to pull something off. There are plenty of people who will tell you
- that marriage is too hard, don’t do it;
- that Christians are too narrow-minded, don’t be one of them;
- that leadership is too stressful, let someone else do it.
Even the church, believe it or not, has naysayers in it: that will never work, some say; we don’t have enough money to do that, and best of all: we’ve never done it that way before. But thank God I didn’t listen to the naysayers when I wanted to start this website. I believed that day and I still believe now that it is the will of God. This Internet ministry is reaching thousands daily and that is how I know I was and is in the Divine Providence of God.
Tip #1 for fighting giants: don’t listen to the naysayers.
#2 Not Armour, but Faith
The battle is won, David teaches, not by armour but by faith. It was already an old lesson in David’s time. At the Red Sea, the great armies of Egypt gave way to Moses’ faith that God would part the water. At Jericho, the Israelites’ whole arsenal consisted of some trumpets, yet the walls came tumbling down. David said to Goliath: “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-axe. I come at you in the Name of God. . . God will hand you over to us.”
Even though the money of the United States says, “In God, we trust,” we actually tend to trust in the money and discount the power of faith and God. It’s easy to be fatalistic: I don’t have a great job, so I’ll never be able to get out of debt. And I didn’t get into high-ranking colleges, so I’ll never be able to get a great job. And I grew up poor, so I’ll never be able to get into a high-ranking college. But the first step in accomplishing anything is to believe it can be done. They call that “faith.”
If we want the church to thrive and grow, people think, we need more resources, better “weapons”—a bigger budget, a bigger building, a better Bishop. Sure, all those things can help. But what matters most is the last thing we think to try. It’s called prayer, getting ourselves out of the way and asking God to lead the way. Tip #2 for fighting giants: not by armour is the battle won, David says, but by faith.
#3 Not Run Away, but Charge!
We talked earlier about naysayers. But for me, and for so many people, the biggest naysayer of all is myself. Leadership—well, life—is all about courage. Here’s David’s motto: Not this–run away! But this–charge! We usually think that the opposite of faith is doubt. But far more often the opposite of faith is fear. That may be why “Fear not” is the most repeated command in the Bible.
When Goliath would show up, the Israelites were afraid, understandably. But for whatever reason—his youth perhaps, his cocky attitude maybe, or more likely his faith—David overcame his fear. His motto is: not this—run away, but this: charge!
It’s scary to admit you have a problem. It’s scary to ask forgiveness. It’s scary to go back to school or start a new career later in life. You can run away, or you can do what David did: charge!
Sometimes I wonder if what holds back the church isn’t a kind of fear. Why don’t we tell people about the amazing love of God? And why don’t we invite our family and friends to church? Oh, I know all the rationalizations, because I’ve used them myself—all my friends already go to church, or the right time has never come up, or I’m an introvert, leave me alone. But could it be we’re simply afraid?
The opposite of faith is not so much doubt as fear. So Tip #3 for fighting giants is: not this—run away! But this: charge! And David downed his giant. I’ll bet you can too.
Tip #4: Try Something Different
Every day Goliath would march out and challenge the Israelites to find someone to fight him in hand-to-hand combat with armour and swords and spears. And every day the Israelites would consider that challenge, and they knew he would crush them. And so they were stuck in fear and resignation. Until David came along. He too would have been crushed if he’d tried to fight Goliath the same old way. So . . . he tried something different—a slingshot. Now don’t get me wrong—there was no guarantee that David’s plan would work. It took a mighty skilful shot—or maybe just a lucky one—to hit the one vulnerable spot on Goliath’s well-armoured body. David could have missed and got killed. But they sure weren’t getting anywhere the other way! Albert Einstein the great is credited with saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
So if you’ve been trying to manage your family crisis a certain way and it’s not been working, how about trying something different? Yeah, it’s risky. But you already know what you’ll get the other way. If you’ve been trying to slay the giant in your life the same way for years—lose weight the same way, or quit drinking the same way or get along with your parents or kids the same way—and nothing is happening, how about trying something different? No, it might not work, but then again, it might.
I believe there is a crisis lurking somewhere and not far from the church. I believe we ought to start some community outreach program, open-air services and get the message across. We are to confined in the building and there is where we shield ourselves from the public. We need to get out and try something new to witness to lost souls. I wonder if it could be time for tip #4–try something different.
Tip #5: It Only Takes One Person
Finally, this: how many people did it take to kill Goliath? Well, a whole army stood around and watched, but one person slews Goliath. Not a church board. Not a committee. Not even a task force. One person. And just a boy at that. Oh sure, once David did his deed, the whole army got in the act and chased the Philistines all the way to Gath and Ekron. But it only took one person to get it started.
This is what Spiritual Baptists ought to be doing—Every Member in Ministry—is all about (well, not killing Philistines, but empowering individuals). If there’s a giant that needs to be slain, feel free to pick up your sling and go at it. If there’s a ministry you’re called to do and it’s not in our church records, as long it’s consistent with our mission and vision, then step up and do it. How about visiting the hospitals and the nursing homes and witness to the sick and suffering? How about training some young people to do some home care for the elderly in the community, and you will have a chance to minister to those persons.
How many people does it take to kill a giant? How many people does it take to change a family? How many people does it take to breathe new life into a church? Just you.
Whatever the giant in your life, or in the church, there you have it—five tips for fighting giants. I invite you to take these tips and just put a little checkmark next to the one you need the most. Take it home with you, and the next time you face that giant, take out your bookmark, your five smooth stones, say a prayer, remember David–and go get that giant!