Marks of the Anointed One: Success, Humility, & Sacrifice
1 Samuel 18:17-30
Historians will often refer to the “Protestant work ethic” which enabled much of the Western world to develop more rapidly in the centuries following the Protestant Reformation. The reformers taught that all legitimate vocations are sacred, and encouraged people to embrace their work with sense of calling.
In my experience, most Christians are still a very hard-working segment of society. This, of course, is a good and honorable trait. But if it is combined with a shallow understanding of grace it can produce very ugly thoughts & attitudes. We can become self-righteous about what we accomplish. We can forget that even when we have worked hard, everything we have is an undeserved gift of God. We can forget that many hard-working people never get ahead, due to circumstances outside of their control. Perhaps the ugliest attitude is a sense of entitlement toward God’s gifts, as though we have merited them through hard work.
In 1 Samuel 18:17-30, David is described as having success in all that he does. We see him going above and beyond to accomplish what Saul has required of him. David is a man with a diligent work-ethic. But we also see him display incredible humility, asking “Who am I that I should be son-in-law to the King?” David knows he is the Lord’s anointed. And he knows that he has given faithful service to King Saul. But at no point does he think himself worthy of the king’s favor. In David, we see the extremely rare combination of abundant success mixed with abundant humility.
As Christians, we are called to work extremely hard in all that God has entrusted to us. But we are to do so with the humility to recognize that we depend upon Him for all we do. We should be able to look back on anything we accomplish and say, “Praise be to God for all He has done!” Or to put it in the words of the apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).