Absalom intercepted those who came to present their cases to David. He implied that the king had no interest in them, no time for them. He would kiss each one and say, “If I were made judge in the land, you would receive justice!” Over a period of time, Absalom was successful in undermining the confidence of the people in his father and “so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.”
Subversion is characterized by hidden agendas and secret meetings. It seeks out those who feel they have been slighted or neglected. Rather than appeal to the higher motives and strengths of men, it preys on their prejudices, grudges, and discontent. It uses those weaknesses to manipulate them into supporting its own selfish ambition.
Sometimes subversion attempts to baptize itself in a “righteous cause.” It’s probable that Absalom was right about David’s neglect of the people. But no “righteous cause” can ever sanctify the devilish, clandestine, unspiritual and fundamentally dishonest tactics of the subversive!
Absalom was attractive to those who followed him. They really believed he had their best interests at heart. But the fruit of Absalom’s plotting was civil war. Such subversion will be recognized by the same fruit today. The “works of the flesh” of Galatians 5 are all anti-social. It is significant that more than half of them are also divisive in nature. On the other hand, the “fruit of the Spirit” is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
As we attempt to justify our own plans and purposes, we may not possess the honesty or the objectivity to pass the “motive test.” It’s possible for us to deceive ourselves about that. But the “fruit test” will eventually bring the truth to light. If our efforts repeatedly bring civil war, it’s time to at least question our methods.
James tells us that there is a wisdom that does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:15-18).
From Guest Editorial V
By R. Dean Catlett
Minister of the church of Christ in Bend, OR.