After David’s infamous night with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah, there was only silence from his friends and counselors (2 Samuel 11). For months, no one would tell David the simple truth. No one had had the courage to confront him - that is until Nathan the prophet brings this message: “Why? Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight?” Then David, in one of the great understatements in Scripture, says, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Coming to terms with one’s sin requires the slow work of the Holy Spirit, but more often than not, it also requires one willing to speak the truth to us by that same Spirit. Writing in the 1930’s, Reinhold Niebuhr perceived the incapability of individuals and nations to rid themselves completely of evil, but he did credit the religious spirit with a capacity for restraint and humility. I found this quote in my copy of Niebuhr’sMoral Man & Immoral Society:
O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar. – Psalm 139: 1-2
I was talking to a fellow last Monday at the gym about his work and mine. He knows that I’m a pastor, and so when I told him that it was my “day off” he smiled: “Your day off? I guess that means you don’t have to save any souls today!” “Oh, saving souls is not my job,” I said, “being a pastor is my job. Caring about souls is my calling.” To be more theologically precise, I should have said, “Saving souls is God’s job” but that seemed too complicated to explain at the moment.
What made his comment noteworthy was the fact that he had just told me, not more than two minutes before, that he had been diagnosed with an incurable cancer. He was hopeful because the doctor had said it was manageable; but as he spoke I felt for him, as most anyone would. He’s a very intelligent man, someone who helps others in his line of work...