Saturday Spotlight: Ahab

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When Ahab saw [Elijah], he said, “So there you are—the worst troublemaker in Israel!” 1 Kings 18: 16b

 

Why do we find it so easy to look for the cause of our troubles outside ourselves? Playing the blame game is a common tendency. Even though King Ahab “sinned against the Lord more than any of his predecessors,” (1 Kings 16:30) he blamed the prophet Elijah for his problems. It’s true that sometimes the actions of others cause us harm, but it is also true that when we’re feeling guilty or our own self-esteem is on shaky ground, our egos—seeking self-preservation—point the finger elsewhere. We think, “Well, I may have done X, but look at what they’re doing. I’m not that bad.”

 

We look at the wrongs of others—real or imagined—to feel better by comparison, but comparing ourselves to others can also work against us. When people quietly go about their own lives with integrity we can feel criticized by implication. It’s as if their virtue shows us up and makes us feel shabby about ourselves.

 

Many years ago I worked with a gentle woman who was consistently sweet and kind. I was young and bitter and found the woman irksome. I confess that I went out of my way to provoke her, just to see her lose her cool. It was as if I needed to prove she was not better than me. She rarely stooped to my level and that just made me feel worse about myself.

 

When we blame others for our problems, we get to feel better about ourselves temporarily without having to take responsibility or clean up our own messes. We fail to grow when we do that. Even if nobody else finds out, we know the truth. In those moments of solitude when we have no one else to look down on, we know that our poor choices and character flaws have contributed—at least in part—to our own troubles. Once we become willing to acknowledge our own mistakes and shortcomings, we have genuine hope for improvement.

 

Do we want to continue to point the finger at others for the sake of appearances or do we want to honestly look within, lovingly accept what we find, and become willing to do something about our biggest enemy—ourselves, so that we can grow? Do we want to look better or do we want to actually be better?

 

Prayer: Lord, may I trust your love enough to acknowledge my faults and seek help in overcoming them.

 

Reflection: How am I contributing to the problems facing me today?

 

 

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Meditations

But Jesus answered “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks.’” (Matthew 4:4)

 

All Bible quotes are from the Good News Translation unless otherwise noted.

 

It is reassuring that Jesus called fishermen and tax collectors to be his followers. These were laymen, not Scripture experts. It is wise to seek guidance from religious scholars and clergy who have studied Scripture to avoid errors in interpretation. But the Bible is also a gift given to each of us, to use as a basis for prayer and meditation.

 

I’m not a Biblical scholar; I’m an expert only on my own experience. Following the Scripture passage is a brief meditation along with a question or two as a springboard for your own reflections. Please feel free to share your own thoughts or insights on the passage by adding a comment. All comments are moderated, so please allow some time for your comment to be posted.

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