Nathan the prophet said to David the King, “You are the man!”
Nathan had just delivered a parable about a rich man who owned a great number of flocks who stole a poor man’s pet ewe lamb, his only lamb, and served it up as a dinner for a travelling guest. Nathan’s parable pointed to David’s taking of Bathsheba who had been Uriah the Hittite’s beloved and beautiful and only wife - but David did not yet know this. Upon hearing Nathan’s parable, David was very angry and pronounced a death sentence on the rich man who had so callously stolen the poor man’s family pet for a traveler’s dinner. This is when Nathan reveals that it was David himself who had done this dark deed – even arranging for the murder of Uriah the Hittite in order to gain for himself this particular woman – all while he had the previous king Saul’s daughter and former wives as well as other women as his own. The whole story can be read in 2 Samuel 11 and 12.
But this episode points to a very human characteristic – the recognition of how ugly my sin is when it is done by someone else.
- “Pastors” of large, lifeless, lukewarm “churches” can preach eloquently about lifeless Sardis and lukewarm Laodicea and the wide path in which many press on to destruction.
- “Pastors,” “elders,” “apostles,” “prophets” and men under any other religious title who believe themselves recipients of authority delegated to them by God denounce clergyism as Nicolaitansim.
- Teachers routinely gather groups of people to sit at the teacher’s feet and then boast of the need to teach in order to actually learn the Bible – or they denounce passivity as an open door for demonic activity.
- A “pastor” will preach a Biblically sound sermon on the process of “church discipline” right after he and the “church” staff have practiced damage control and ostracized a brother who dared to step out of rank in their congregation and question some teaching from the pulpit.
In each of these cases there is sure to someone (perhaps many!) whom God has sent to say, “You are the man!” But it is almost equally certain that the “church” leadership has responded with gossip, slander and other power-mongering tactics to protect their status-quo power base and structure. Few indeed are those who, like David, can repent in great sorrow for their many sins against God and the body of Christ.
It is no mean feat to preach against sin. Sin is especially recognizable when we see it committed by another brother in the Lord. What is difficult, but necessary nonetheless, is to cultivate the habit of taking every truth before the Lord – first asking Him, “Lord, is it I?” – long before we ever stand up to denounce the sins of others. There is indeed a proportional likelihood that the more we find someone’s particular sin distasteful and intolerable, the more likely it is that we ourselves practice this very same sin. It is indeed amazing how disgustingly ugly my sin is when seen on another person.
Only when we first and routinely turn the Light of life inward upon our own darkness will we be able to then fully and accurately reflect that Light among men. Otherwise all we will dispense will be darkness and great will be that darkness indeed.
Let he who has ears hear.
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