Cash that check

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your body can’t cash”? Or perhaps, “Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk”? Did you know that the equivalent appears in the Bible?

Let’s visit King Ahab in 1 Kings 20. Verses 1-4 say:

Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’ ”

The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”

King Ahab sounds soft to me. Let’s see what happens next in verses 5-8.

The messengers came again and said, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children. But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.’ ”

The king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said to them, “See how this man is looking for trouble! When he sent for my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.”

The elders and the people all answered, “Don’t listen to him or agree to his demands.”

Ben-Hadad has now really insulted Ahab. At least Ahab gets some good counsel. Tell this guy to get lost! Ahab responds in verse 9.

So he replied to Ben-Hadad’s messengers, “Tell my lord the king, ‘Your servant will do all you demanded the first time, but this demand I cannot meet.’ ”

Ahab stands up to the Aramean bully. Ben-Hadad threatens Ahab again and then Ahab makes this great statement in verse 11.

“Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.’ ”

Fantastic. Now Ahab is being the king! He tells Ben-Hadad to be careful about the checks he is writing. Let’s see how God enters this conflict. He sends a prophet to tell Ahab that He will deliver the enemy into Israel’s hands. Ahab asks Him who will fight. The Lord replies in verse 14.

‘The junior officers under the provincial commanders will do it.’ ”

God sent the JV (junior varsity)! Here’s a modern equivalent. The head football coach from your cross town rival calls your head coach and says, “At your homecoming game on Friday, we are going to kick your butt. Not only that, but we’re going to take your cheerleaders, eat all your concessions, and leave with your helmets and shoulder pads. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.” Your coach’s response is, “When we play, I’m sending out the JV and they are not only going to beat you, but they will shut you out.”

Of course this is exactly what God did. Ahab marched out his 232 junior officers and each one struck down his opponent (verse 20). Ben-Hadad and the Arameans then fled. This is so often how it works in our lives. Living to please God rarely looks like the rest of the world. Be prepared to be the JV and watch God give you the victory. God ALWAYS cashes the checks that he writes.

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About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
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