You know those daily bible reading plans? I've done a few over the years and I always seem to fall behind after an enthusiastic start. Apparently, in my twisted mind, this is an excuse to stop altogether. Same principle applies to eating healthy, I believe. The problem, of course, is that when I cease using a bible reading plan, my time in the Word becomes haphazard and less disciplined (and sometimes non-existent). So, this year I decided to write my own plan. There are certain books of the Bible that I know I need to read more often. Others I barely know, so I need to discipline myself to spend some time in them. If you are struggling to spend solid time in God's Word, I highly recommend finding some structure--get a plan--and some accountability.
Yesterday, on my reading plan, was the account of King David falling into sin after allowing his eyes to linger upon Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. Most of us know this story...it unfolds similarly to James' wisdom in his letter:
...each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
David sleeps with Bathsheba, she becomes pregnant, David calls Uriah back from battle with the intent of Bathsheba sleeping with Uriah so that the baby looks like it was his all along, Uriah doesn't follow the plan, David thinks killing Uriah off in battle is his best option and the recently widowed Bathsheba then marries David. (Deep breath!) Whew!
To my knowledge, we are not told whether David was having guilt pangs in the midst of this drama. But, God wasn't about to leave David in the midst of his sin spiral. Isn't that just so true of God? I've seen Him, time and time again, reveal sin in my life or my children's lives because He just will not leave us lingering in that sin forever. So, in David's case, God sent the prophet Nathan to call David out on his sin. At first, David doesn't get it. Then, Nathan boldly rebuked David for his sin against God.
Now...at this point in the story, how would YOU respond? Someone reveals the truth about something you're hiding. That little pet sin that you think is secret and now suddenly it's out in the open. Of course it hurts. It's like turning on the bright light when you've been sleeping in the dark. It's difficult to respond kindly to that kind of abrupt awakening! And, such is the case when we are awakened by another person calling us out in our sins. Often our first reaction is anger or defensiveness or blame. The question is, how long do you stay in that place? Is your heart in such a state that you can respond like King David?
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight--that You may be found just when You speak and blameless when You judge.
Psalm 51: 1-4
What can we learn from Nathan and David?
1. It's no fun when someone brings forth our sin. I don't like it one bit...at least, not in the short term. But, in the long term, it is a huge relief. It is a joy. It is something that draws me closer to God. That is, if our hearts are soft like King David.
2. Our sin is against God, and if we persist in it, we are only separating ourselves further from Him. There is no peace or joy in that place.
3. While it's easy to identify others' sins, have eyes that look inward as well. As we are led to gently restore a brother or sister in sin, be certain that we have laid ourselves bare before God first so we are going to that loved one with great humility.
4. Be bold. God's Word is profitable for correction...and when we need to correct someone, do it in the power of the Holy Spirit so your flesh doesn't get in the way. That flesh of ours can be prideful, judgmental and even just plain 'chicken', so be earnest to empty yourself and then pray that God would fill you to overflowing with His powerful Holy Spirit.
We know King David as a 'man after God's own heart'. His heart was contrite; his spirit was broken. May ours be the same so that we would be abundantly fruitful for the Kingdom of God!