You may have heard about the fellow who was visiting with a friend one day when the friend asked: “Is your marriage a happy one?”
“We’ve been married a long time now,” Bubba said, “and we’ve never had a fight in our house.”
“Yep,” the fellow said, “we always go outside.”
One of the most famous fights of the Old Testament was between a young fellow named David and a giant known as Goliath. The Bible gives us a blow-by-blow account of their encounter, including how David, armed only with a sling, defeated the Philistine warrior with one small, well aimed stone.
But you have given little thought to an unfortunate encounter between David and his oldest brother Eliab. You may recall that David’s father, Jesse, had sent David on an errand to deliver food to his brothers who were serving as soldiers. When David got to the front lines, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Goliath was talking trash, calling for the Israelites to send a soldier to fight him. No one dared.
David said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God. And Eliab, his eldest brother, heard when he spake unto the men, and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? And with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride and the naughtiness in thine heart, for thou art come down that thou mightiest see the battle.”
You see, at a time when Eliab should have had his focus squarely on Goliath and the Philistine army, he was caught up in infighting with his own brother. Have you noticed how easily that can happen even today in the churches where we worship? You might see some fellow who should be fighting against our great enemy, the devil, but who instead is quarreling and criticizing a brother. That’s always a huge waste of time and energy. Aren’t you glad that David didn’t lose sight of his real enemy? He didn’t strike back at his brother. Instead, David focused on Goliath, his real enemy, and defeated him to become a hero of the faith.
It would have been tragic if David had focused on Eliab’s petty accusations, allowing them to get in the way of his battle with the true enemy of God’s people. And it would be just as tragic for any of us to focus on some trifling conflict within our husbands, wives, children, siblings or church brothers and sisters and lose sight of the fact that we have a greater enemy who wants to do us harm.
So, when someone asks how we’re getting along with our spouses, I hope we can say we we’ve never had a fight in our house, and leave out the part about always taking our fights outside.
Roger Alford is pastor of South Fork Baptist Church. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 502-514-6857.