“My way or the highway!” This was the attitude of Achilles, the champion Greek warrior, in the Battle for Troy. General Agamemnon had slighted the superstar’s feelings, so he sulked in his tent, refusing to participate in the battle, resulting in the death of Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend.
In 1 Samuel 8:5-6, Israel rejected Samuel as their leader, asking for a king instead. The snubbed Samuel counseled Israel that they would regret taking on a king, but the people, “refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and said, ‘No, there shall be a king over us'” (8:19). But instead of going home and sulking in his tent, big-hearted Samuel took an active role in choosing his successor: “Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on Saul’s head, kissed him and said, ‘Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler?'” (9:1).
W. G. Blaikie writes: “How many a good man (or woman) takes offense when slighted by some committee in connection with a cause which he’s tried to help! He says: ‘If they won’t have me, let them do without me! If they won’t allow me to carry out the course I’ve proposed, I’ll have nothing to do with them!”
David Calhoun tells of a big-hearted Samuel-like man who was slighted by his church in a debatable issue: “In 1836 Judge William Gould led a movement at First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia, to buy their first organ. It was a break with tradition. In a congregational meeting, one member rose and demanded chapter and verse where the Bible authorizes ‘the worship of God with machinery.’ Nevertheless, the members voted for the organ, and Judge Gould was appointed to raise the money. Soon after, the Judge ran into Robert Campbell, a member who had opposed the organ. Mr. Campbell asked the Judge why he had not asked him for a donation. Gould replied, ‘I knew you did not wish to have the organ.’ ‘That makes no difference,’ said Campbell. ‘When the majority of the members of the church have decided the matter, it is my duty to put aside personal feelings and assist as well as I may.'” (Cloud of Witnesses, pp 40-41)
Blaikie adds: “You perhaps feel you’ve not been treated by your church (or small group) with sufficient consideration. You fret, you complain, you stay away from the gathering, you pour your grievances into every open ear. Would Samuel have done so? Side by side with his, is not your conduct poor and petty?”
Samuel’s big-hearted refusal to sulk in his tent can be applied in many ways. A loving wife feels emotionally hurt or offended by her husband’s unkind words or deeds. Instead of pouting in her silent treatment tent, she keeps selflessly and pleasantly serving him as a Christ-like helpmeet. Teens as well often struggle with sulking.
Remember: “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; . . . it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered . . . bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).Mark Chanski Reformed Baptist Church of Holland, MI