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Monday, June 22, 2009

A Noble Character

Long ago, in the land of Jezreel, there lived a man of noble character. He was neither a king nor a prophet, he was not a man of great esteem in the eyes of his contemporaries, he was a man who faithfully tended the vineyard he received as an inheritance from his father. Naboth, also known as Naboth the Jezreelite, the man of which I speak was a man who knew the value of his inheritance, and was diligent in tending it the best way he knew how. Naboth planted, he pruned, and he watered, because it was his desire to honor his inheritance. Naboth lived an unassuming life, until one day, Ahab the king of Samaria, came to him and made him an offer many would not have refused.
Naboth’s vineyard had the misfortune of being situated next to Ahab’s palace, and one day Ahab woke up and realized he really would fancy a vegetable garden. Why he chose Naboth’s vineyard is unknown, for surely Naboth’s was not the only plot of land surrounding the palace, but Ahab’s heart was settled.
1 Kings 21:2, “So Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, ‘give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house; and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money.”
On the surface this seemed like a fair and reasonable offer. Taking into account that it was the king himself making the offer, it was even generous and munificent. Naboth was even given a choice between a better vineyard, or its worth in money. Why toil in the sun? Why be at the mercy of the weather? Why concern oneself with whether or not it was going to rain? Why spend the days picking grapes, when he could have taken the vineyard’s worth in money, and lived happily ever after, and garnered the king’s favor by his acceptance of the deal? In short, because it was the inheritance of his fathers!
1 Kings 21:3, “And Naboth said to Ahab, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!”
The king of this world is always making such offers to the children of God who have received an inheritance of grace and truth. They are not unreasonable offers, in fact they seem outright charitable, because the devil doesn’t haggle when it comes to acquiring something that God values, and then systematically destroying it.
Ahab did not want to continue growing grapes, he wanted to pull out the entire vineyard, and plant a vegetable garden in its place. When the enemy makes you an offer on your inheritance, just remember he does not intend to keep it as it is but destroy it altogether and plant something less noble in its place.
Countless souls have been deceived by the cunning offer of the king of this world, and whether for a better vineyard, or for money, they sold their inheritance, somehow justifying it to themselves.
“Why are you preaching the truth? Why are you standing on the Word?”, the king of this world says, “I will give you a bigger ministry, a greater outreach, just tone it down a tad, let me replace the noble fruit, with ordinary vegetables, and you’ll see how much easier it will be for you. You won’t have to labor as much, you won’t have to be pruning and trimming all the time, you’ll get to enjoy life, and the trappings of this life. If you want out of the vineyard business altogether, then I’ll buy you off, just sell out!”
Chances are Naboth did not know he was a man of noble character, because one’s character is made manifest only upon testing. Noble character is a byproduct of faithfulness and obedience, of humility and dedication. Such character is daily nurtured and matured, although its possessor does not fully realize it. One walks in obedience, one walks in faithfulness not for the express result of having a noble character, but to be obedient to God. Obedience to God however, serves to grow godly character in us, and when the time of its testing comes it flows through us.
Nabath’s noble character led to a noble purpose, and a noble stand. He would not sell, nor barter away his vineyard, because it had been entrusted to him by his father, and as such he would be faithful in tending to it, and growing the best fruit he possibly could.
If only the character of some Christians today was as noble as that of Naboth. If only we as the children of God would realize the true worth of our inheritance in Him, and take a stand in saying that we will not trifle away that which is priceless, for something that is temporal and passing, that we will not sell out, that we will not give in, that whether it be a pauper or a king that pressures us into parting with that which God has entrusted us, we would not quibble, but flatly and convincingly say, ‘no, the Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!’
For most Christians today, it doesn’t take a king to cause them to relent, but any sort of opposition whatsoever. It doesn’t even have to be verbal, just a certain look from a neighbor, a friend, or a family member is enough for most people to sell their inheritance, to stop tending their Father’s vineyard, and relent.
Everybody wants to be loved, and nobody wants to be hated in today’s day and age, but there are certain things worth being hated for, there are certain things worth being despised for, and there are certain things worth being persecuted for. Our Father’s inheritance is one of those things worth suffering the rejection, hatred, and maliciousness of the world over.
Absence of noble character causes many to cut and run at the first sign of trouble, at the first sign of opposition, or the first sign of disagreement. In the face of opposition and persecution we discover our true character, and therein we find whether we will stand for the truth of God’s word, or compromise as so many others already have.
If you do have a noble character, be forewarned that the world, your friends, and even your family will not understand why you choose to reject what to them might seem like a great offer, why you choose to stand on principle, and why you honor the Father’s inheritance. The world cannot perceive that which it has never known, and as Ahab, will be both confused and offended that you chose not to compromise, but rather to stand for the truth. In its ignorance the world will persecute you, and begin to do everything in its power to separate you from your inheritance, because the ruler of this world knows how priceless it truly is, but stand firm, for what is yours is yours, and it cannot be taken away by any man. What we have in God, the inheritance that we have received, no man can take away from us.
The story of Naboth does not have a happy ending, he is not rewarded for his noble character, but rather falsely accused, dragged out of the city and stoned to death. That however is a teaching for another time. For now I ask that you ponder Naboth’s noble character, and search your heart to see if you possess the selfsame character that made this man exceptional even though everything else about him was ordinary.

With love in Christ,

Michael Boldea Jr.

1 comment:

k.mag.. said...

The same is true for Uriah the Hittite, He seemed like he also had honor and integrety for companions. Men do not seem to be impressed when they meet one like these men. These true men are an annoyance.