SBTS chapel live blog: Russell D. Moore – 1 Kings 1:1-4

Communications Staff — February 4, 2010

Preacher: Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Text: 1 Kings 1:1-4

Moore recounted a story of Michael Card giving the back story behind his song, “Underneath the Door,” where he spoke of sliding letters under the door to his father who was preoccupied with work.

Card respected his father as being a good man, but this self-preoccupied aspect of his father’s life was still a reality. Card shared that this self-preoccupation was built on the false idea that his father was his gift, versus his father having a gift that he should use appropriately.

Moore was convicted recently that he was taking on the characteristics of Card’s father through an interaction with his son, Benjamin.

You are not your gift

David in 1 Kings 1 is experiencing the kind of a collapse that comes when a man has not accomplished everything that he wanted to accomplish.

In David, we see a man who provides an example of what to do in the face of a giant and what not to do in the account of David and Bathsheba.

With this passage in 1 Kings 1, we see a picture of a man whose life did not turn out the way he had planned. The temple he desired to build was not built.

Some of you in this room have a ministry that is not playing out the way you thought it would play out. Some of you have a fear of failing in ministry, a fear of falling short of what you want to accomplish.

I want to encourage you to fail to the uttermost and to find freedom there.

Freed from the illusion of ego

David is attending to the people of God and protecting them from enemies. This is exactly what the pastor of a congregation is called to do. But David, this mighty warrior here, at the end of his life is not there with his sword. He is not his gift. He is a man.

Some of you in this room right now are in despair and exhaustion. Some of you in this room are planning out and trying to live a life of ministry that you can’t keep all together. Some of you fear that you are going to fail and that your ministry is going to collapse.

Others of you in this room are holding back and not using your gifts out of a fear of failing. To you I say, “Fear. Fall. Collapse.”

In this passage, David is on the verge of death. But God is gracious to him as he approaches death. David will not die as Saul did. David is here in bed about to die. Saul was left with illusions: he retained his title as king, dying in battle. He retained his role as leader. But Saul did not retain the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

David here is retaining what God has revealed to him throughout his life: he is not his gift and he is not his anointing. David is reminded consistently throughout his life that He is reliant on God.

David not being unable to get up out of his bed, lying in impotence while his kingdom is being fought for around him, while the temple he wanted to build is not built; David is failing, but he is failing graciously and gloriously. David is failing, but God is allowing him to fail graciously by exposing the illusion that David is his gift.

I am aware and grateful that God reveals to me something that must be cut down in me and that must be cut down in all of us: self-importance. We are tempted to live as if the advancement of the kingdom of Christ of necessity depends on us.

You who are self important and view yourself as the best exegete in your Hebrew class and the best preacher in your preaching class but never use your gifts because you are afraid of exposing your gifts for what they actually are, are lazy and fearful because you do not want to show yourself to be a failure.

Every person in human history has had this Messiah complex — a self-important focus that says they can and must save the world — except for the Messiah Himself.

Jesus’s anointing with the Holy Spirit carried forward from the moment of His baptism to a death on the cross that linked His anointing with weakness.

If you are anointed with the Holy Spirit for a ministry that advances the kingdom of Christ, then you will minister in the midst of weakness.

David in his humiliation and in his weakness did something he could never have done in his power: he spoke the Word of God with the credibility of a humiliated man. He was freed for that and so are you.

Personal weakness frees you for the glory of Christ

In the Southern Baptist Convention, you have the reality that men who have served long in a church and seen success in a church, viewing themselves as the gift. Thus, they don’t want to pass on their church, they don’t want to pass on their ministry success, to someone else.

You also have a younger generation that is self-preoccupied and views themselves as the gift. They don’t want to inherit a ministry from someone else.

We will never have renewal and Great Commission Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention by replacing preening people of one style with preening people of another style.

David sees this because he knows that he is not his gift and he knows that there is a Gospel that lets you fail, that lets you fall, that lets you be frustrated, that lets you be chained and beaten or laughed at, but still stands.

We have a Messiah who was power through weakness. Who died, but then three days later rose again.

David failed. But David’s failure gives us Jesus Christ.

Some of you are scared to death of falling, slipping or failing.

Some of you are scared to death of having a church plant that only has 10-15 people and where you have to go and explain why at the next conference.

You are scared to death of a failure, but you are not your gift. And the surprising ways that God takes you and the surprising ways that He allows you to fail are all in order to conform you to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the ruler and I am not. Jesus bears the anointing and I get to share in it with Him. Jesus has the mission and He calls us to join with him. Let’s be disappointed, let’s fail, let’s be humiliated, but let’s do it to the glory of Christ as children who are not bringing our prizes to a father so that He lets us stay in the house but as children who are learning to say “Abba.”

There is a freedom in that. You will be able to have a freedom and courage and a Spirit-fire in your ministry that enables you to say “I am free because of the Spirit of the Lord.” Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

You are not your gift.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

Apply now for summer or fall studies

Classes begin in June & Aug.