We continue to think about the sensitive personality of Ahimaaz, the pro-King David son of Zadok the priest.
Ahimaaz Untruthful Ahimaaz denied knowing about Absalom, even though verse 20 says Joab clearly stated that Absalom was dead. Ahimaaz knew it, but he couldn’t bring himself to speak this reality. He couldn’t hurt his mentor.
He had very little time to shield David from this blow . . . to cushion this news. Possibly as little as the time it takes us to read verses 28 – 30.
In verse 29, Ahimaaz referred to “the king’s servant and me,” meaning the Cushite whom David had also seen coming. Ahimaaz made it sound like the two men had left at the same time. Nothing in the text indicates that Ahimaaz spoke of the great out-pouring of energy he invested to arrive before the Cushite. He did not acknowledge that he exhausted himself to get there first. Sensitive Christians hide their extreme exertions, being even a little embarrassed about them themselves. Helping the other person is all that is important to them. Sometimes this can be carnal (if, for example the tender believer wants to look good to others). Other times it can be so led by the Holy Spirit that it is a rare display of God’s loving attention to His children–pure, God-like and pleasing to the Almighty.2
But then he was dishonest on two points: (1) he adds “I saw great confusion just as Joab . . .” Nothing in the text indicates there was confusion in Joab’s camp at the moment Ahimaaz was sent. The purpose of this statement seems to have been to make Ahimaaz’s not knowing the status of Absalom sound plausible. (2) He denied knowing about the status of Absalom. As stated above, he lied.
Benefit Unequal to the Expenditure His purpose, of course, was positive. But right here we see one of the weaknesses of the Overly Sensitive Christian. He or she may actually re-write an event if that is necessary to achieve his goal of smoothing things over. It is good to work for peace and harmony. It is good to be a peace-maker, but not at the expense of truth. In this case, Ahimaaz’s lie was inconsequential. In other situations, being less than truthful may have dire consequences. And godly truthfulness is based on the content of the communication, not merely on the consequences.
The Cushite arrived, maybe with some anger at Ahimaaz for arriving first. We can assume Ahimaaz would be highly attuned to the Cushite’s presence, tone of voice and words as he reported to the king.
Seeming to have little affection for King David and being in the confidence of Joab, the Cushite bluntly told King David that his son was dead (v. 32).
The point is that Ahimaaz put forth a great deal of energy and showed enormous compassion for the king . . . but what did it accomplish? How much of a cushion was created by Ahimaaz’s sacrifice? A few seconds. Three minutes?
Great exertion had been put forth by this man for a small return. The tender son of the high priest could not shield the king from reality for long.
Similarly, overly compassionate, somewhat unrealistic Christians do not mind spending themselves. They believe they advance the name of Jesus Christ. And they are driven to be God’s hands in a cold world. That’s the way they are wired by God. But sometimes they fail to allow reason to limit their driven compassion.
Confession My wife would say I am such a person. An OSC. Even I have enough objectivity to see it sometimes. It is a struggle to not be overly sensitive.
Let’s consider another situation in which an OSC can fail if he / she is not careful. It’s the I’m invisible in a social situation problem. Most of us have experienced the following emotional / spiritual battle. Imagine yourself in a social setting. No one talks to you. If you ask a question, you are answered briefly and then people turn back toward those with whom they were previously talking. You feel invisible. Others around you ignore you. You can’t think of clever things to say, you have not read the latest book or article, you are plain vanilla compared to the witty, insightful, in-the-know types around you. You may as well not be there.
You speculate about them. You try to think like they think so as to understand them. These people probably have no emotional needs, so they assume you have none. They seem to have no need for affirmation, so they think ignoring you won’t matter to you. Maybe they assume you enjoy the peace and quiet of being left alone. Are they just caught up in themselves?
OSCs need to be on guard against slipping into idolatry. What! Me? Idolatry! No way! Yes, maybe you and maybe me. How? It is possible to make an idol out of the approval of others. We can turn our desire for affirmation into an idol. We can become approval junkies.
How can we detect when we are becoming idolatrous? A working definition of idolatry is: Expecting from a person, thing or experience what we should get from God. We can sense when a desire is shifting from “acceptable and normal” into “idolatry” by (1) whether or not we sin to get what we want or (2) if we sin if we don’t get what we want.3 Mental sins like jealousy, self-pity, anger or resent-ment, or action sins like dishonestly, deception or manipulation are indications we have moved into idolatry.
It is God who gives us approval. Don’t expect more approval from people than is spiritually healthy. And don’t give people that much power over you. Don’t crave their approval so much that you go into a tailspin if you don’t get it. Instead, know that you are secure in Christ. Seek His approval through daily obedience and a healthy, balanced emotional life.4
Inspite of I Corinthians 16:18, the people around you may think that to commend something good you have done is to detract from the glory that should go totally to God.
- The title is a bit strong. Being overly sensitive may lead into idolatry, but it does not follow for certain.
- As fully as is possible, given the universally constant reality of sin as set forth in Romans 7:21.
- The origin of this helpful thought is unknown.
- The Christian life is called a “walk,” not a sprint, nor is it being parked. But a steady, stable walk.