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  • Writer's pictureMichael Gott

WE NEED TO GO TO LO-DEBAR!

What is that and where is it?  It was a place mentioned in II Samuel 9.  In that place lived Jonathan’s lame son, forgotten and forsaken.  David made a commitment to be kind to the family of Jonathan, to that family forever, and so he sent for the lame son to be brought to him.


The poor, lame boy was at first frightened by the king’s attention, but quickly David reassured him and said, “Because of my vow to your father, who was my special friend Jonathan, I want to be especially gracious to you—so you will live here with me at the palace!”


And from that time on, this son of Jonathan was treated as if he were the son of King David.  (read II Samuel 9:1-11)


That’s the Old Testament story hidden in Second Samuel, but what is the application for you and me?  It is this, we need to seek out those who are “lame”—spiritually, physically, and emotionally—for acts of great kindness.  We need to visit Lo-debar.  We need to do it now—soon—for us, soon it will be too late.  We must find the lame.


And we all know that part of being a Christian consists of showing lovingkindness to people who don’t merit it.  This boy was lame, and the result was poor living off others.  How many people we know who are fighting a hard battle.  And such acts of unexplainable kindness melts hearts.  Soon to evaporate is hostility, heartbreak, and mistrust.  This love is practical, not sentimental.  It is an expressed act for the personal practical good of someone else.


Dr. James Dobson once said, “There is no greater opportunity to influence our fellow man for Christ than to respond with love when we have been unmistakably wronged.”  We have long said to people who work with us in evangelism, “People do not care what we believe until they believe that we care!”


To go to Lo-debar is costly.  Always it means rolling up your sleeves and getting something done.  The kind of thing that makes an impact on others is kindness, thoughtfulness, and selfless acts that are unexplainable in typical lifestyle of today.  And you can be sure that kind of expressed grace has converted more sinners than displayed eloquence, great learning from study, and even Christian zeal.  Someone said that they were given kindness and it was more important than a thousand sermons.  “Kindness is a grace,” said J. C. Ryle, “that all understand.” Equivalent to a thousand sermons without using a single word, but truth was clearly heard deep in the heart!


The moon is not as lonely as a human heart where love is unknown—it’s a bleak, lifeless expanse.  Vance Havner’s comment sums it up, “Not tongues, nor faith, nor prophecy, nor knowledge, nor martyrdom, nor philanthropy, but love is the Christian’s mark of distinction.”


David loved Jonathan’s lame son as he would love his own son.  Christ would have us love at great inconvenience and expense to ourselves.  By “this mark may the world know that we are Christians … and that Jesus was sent by the Father,” said Francis Schaeffer.


Sadly, we have seen legalistic Christians turn their backs on people marked by sin, and these smallminded people become even smaller—withered, shriveled in their outlook on life and the world as a whole.  After all, Christians have two things they must do to be even called a Christian—it is give and forgive!  Christian love not only enlarges our hearts but extends our arms and opens our hands.


Let me conclude with just one great example of what I mean by going to Lo-debar.  Years ago, C. H. Spurgeon said in a sermon, “I like to be with God’s people of the poorer class, and of the struggling and afflicted sort.  I like to be with God’s people who wrestle hard … I would sooner follow with [that] flock than run ahead with the greyhounds.”


Later, he found something that melted his heart.  Spurgeon heard a shocking rumor that the elderly widow of the famous Welch evangelist Christmas Evans was living in abject poverty.  Evans had died an honored man of God, but somehow nothing was done for his elderly widow.  Spurgeon immediately called in a team of deacons and elders and said, “Go to the hills of Wales and find her.  Bring her here.  Tell her to walk away from her depressing situation and to not worry about anything.  We will treat her as a queen.”


The grateful widow, from that time on was lovingly cared for the rest of her days, by Spurgeon’s church, and finally, at her death, taken back to be, with dignity, buried beside her husband in Wales. 


So, for that church, going to Lo-debar was going to Wales, asking questions, finding the needy woman, and bringing her back to London where she “ate regularly with King David” (II Samuel 9:11).


A Puritan preacher hit the mark by saying, “The more godly any man is, the more merciful that man will be.”  Maybe the best and most healthy exercise to strengthen the heart is reaching down and lifting people up.


Surely it has been said many times, in many ways, by many people—but it’s still true:  The kindness of Christ seen in us is something the blind can see and the deaf can hear and the spiritually dead can feel.  Dr. James S. Stewart of Edinburgh often said, “Love is not sentimental emotions, it’s the servant of our will with Christ in control.”


It was once said, “Love is its own evidence … love feels no loads” (William S. Plumer)—unusual kindness expressed is the very essence and proof of the Christian faith alive in us.  Therefore—go to Lo-debar.

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