9 So why did you ignore the Lord’s command? Why did you do what he says is wrong? You killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and took his wife to be your wife! 10 Now there will always be people in your family who will die by a sword, because you did not respect me; you took the wife of Uriah the Hittite for yourself!’
11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am bringing trouble to you from your own family. While you watch, I will take your wives from you and give them to someone who is very close to you. He will have sexual relations with your wives, and everyone will know it. 12 You had sexual relations with Bathsheba in secret, but I will do this so all the people of Israel can see it.’”
13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Nathan answered, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You will not die. 14 But what you did caused the Lord’s enemies to lose all respect for him. For this reason the son who was born to you will die.”
15 Then Nathan went home. And the Lord caused the son of David and Bathsheba, Uriah’s widow, to be very sick. 16 David prayed to God for the baby. David fasted and went into his house and stayed there, lying on the ground all night. 17 The elders of David’s family came to him and tried to pull him up from the ground, but he refused to get up or to eat food with them.
18 On the seventh day the baby died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the baby was dead. They said, “Look, we tried to talk to David while the baby was alive, but he refused to listen to us. If we tell him the baby is dead, he may do something awful.”
19 When David saw his servants whispering, he knew that the baby was dead. So he asked them, “Is the baby dead?”
They answered, “Yes, he is dead.”
Last week the news broke of Josh Duggar’s sexual abuse of his sister. The headlines were awash with his sexual misconduct and the comments expoded with arguments.
Many were ready to nail this guy to the wall. Others spoke beautiful words of grace and mercy and explained how we should leave well enough alone. The eruptions of arguments within the church were centered around whether we show grace or whether we enforce consequences.
Grace? Or Consequences?
Church we have a problem. Grace and Consequences are not mutually exclusive. That theory doesn’t hold any Biblical water.
I don’t want Josh Duggar to be struck dead. In fact, I think most abusers (sorry, I’m not buying a fourteen year old not knowing it was wrong) are deeply hurting people that need help. (Not the kind he got.)
But what I find truly disturbing about his response is how he keeps throwing around the word “mistake” as if pre-meditated sin is something to be taken as an “oops!”
It isn’t. We will all make mistakes, sinful mistakes. Grace covers those.
We will all make premeditate choices, sinful choices. Grace covers those.
But we have strong Biblical precedent that when we make an active choice to sin, grace extends even through consequences.
Acting as if a choice to sin is a mere mistake to be overlooked shows that we have no concept of the weight that our sin carries. Sin is death. Only One can save us from death and when we as the church play savior we rob our true Savior of the opportunity to show unending grace.
Y’all. This isn’t about Josh Duggar. This is about all of us. This is about a church so confused that we don’t even know how to raise our children. Do we spank them? Or do we refuse even a time-out?
This is about a culture that has no idea how to handle sin, bad choices, and grace from a Godly perspective. This is about our desire for a free pass when we have already been handed a ticket for heaven.
Repentance Doesn’t Negate Consequences.
King David. This man, this king of God’s chosen people, was a man after God’s own heart. And his son died, as a consequence for his sin.
Hear me on this: It was after David had repented and been forgiven.
“The Lord has taken away your sin.”
He admitted that he had done wrong. He humbled himself before the Lord, he fasted and prayed. That is man that is taking his sin seriously…
His son died.
We show no mercy when we expose victims to oppression in the name of grace without reprecussions. In what may be the most unsurprising revelation of this whole passage, God knows more than we do. He knows when we actively pursue a sin and when make a mistake.
God knows that sin brings death and pain into the world. God knows when we will be prone to making mistakes over and over before we commit them for the first time. He knows how far our sin will ripple. He know the hearts of the victims of our sin. He knows.
And in his infinite knowledge we see him, in His Infinite Mercy, forcing David to feel the full weight of even his forgiven-and-washed-clean sin.
Church, we have to stop seeing grace as skin deep. If we really believe that God is who He says He is than we have to believe that grace can extend to places that we can’t even imagine. Be that place a time-out for our young children, rehab for our brothers and sisters, or prison for our sons and daughters.
Then David got up from the floor, washed himself, put lotions on, and changed his clothes. Then he went into the Lord’s house to worship. After that, he went home and asked for something to eat. His servants gave him some food, and he ate.
Let’s not believe that Mercy isn’t capable of reaching those in the darkest of hurting places.
Intentional Sin Requires Boundaries.
"But God said to me, 'You shall not build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.'
David’s reprecussions didn’t end with the death of his son. Because of his life he was also refused the building of God’s temple. God set a firm boundary for his anointed leader.
This boundary didn’t disclude him from service. It did not change his status as God’s chosen one. He did not cast him aside.
Yet, the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever. For He has chosen Judah to be a leader; and in the house of Judah, my father's house, and among the sons of my father He took pleasure in me to make me king over all Israel.
God simply set a boundary.
We show no mercy when we expose victims to oppression in the name of grace without boundaries. God has the same response to active sin over and over again, stay away. And I'm not even talking Old Testament justice here. We are talking New Testament consequences. Not for a rash decision or misake, but over and over again for those who take time, intention, and thought to commit their sins.
People had been hurt and killed by David, so God said No. He, in His Infinite Mercy, told David, you don't get to do that thing.
Again, he knows. He knows when the hearts of His children will feel unsafe. He knows that even the most graceful forgiver needs the justice of God as protection.
Church, we must learn to say no. Certainly we don’t bar our doors and windows, but we are not only foolish, but sinful when we refuse boundary lines in the name of grace and forgiveness.
God never intended for repentance to mean we allow ourselves to dance circles around a pit we have already fallen into. The only way to show grace and mercy after an intentional sin is to set a firm line in the sand.
I have precious daughter who can’t seem to remember to stop when we get to an intersection. Not only is it wrong, it’s dangerous. I have had to implement safeguards for her. She must ride close to me, her freedom must be reigned in to protect herself and others.
Let’s not believe that Mercy isn’t capable of protecting the oppressor and the oppressed.
There is Grace in Consequences.
We have to believe that if God, even under the New Testament Convent that is covered by grace, choose to enforce consequences than they must be filled with grace.
“For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”
I have felt that sting. I have had to pay consequences for my sin, well and long after I had repented. You know what happened? I grew.
I didn’t think that God was good because he was graceful. I knew that God was good when His Grace reached deep into my reprecussions and showed itself true.
Our finite understanding makes this difficult to comprehend. We stand in terror of what happen if we don't save someone ourselves. Let me tell you: We give them a real chance to be saved by the Savior.
There is Fruit in Repentance.
True repentance is from a heart that feels the full brokenness of sin. It comes from a place that is willing to be reconciled to God.
By it’s very nature true repentance asks for reparation, not only in a heavenly sense, but an earthly relm as well. So fine. What I’m saying is this: A truly repentant heart will humbly accept consequences for sin, in fact it will probably seek them.
We are not required or asked to do penitence for our sins in the everlasting Grace of God, but often when we have wronged and hurt people and then repented and aligned our hearts with God's heart, we will want to make it better.
He is full of Justice and if our heart is aligned with His, we will want it too. Even if it comes at our own expense. (I'll now point you back to Zacchaeus)
What do we do?
I get the impulse. The urge to avoid conflict. The temptation to keep our heads above the waters of grace.
We read about the cruelty of the Crusades and Inquisition and we cringe. We read about Puritans and the shame mongering and we roll our eyes. In our fear of repeating our past we are tempted to run to the other side of the field. I get that temptation.
But we can’t. We leave the least of these shivering in the ruins of our stampede when we do that.
We have to live in the tension in between. We have to say no and set boundaries and then reach deep into those boundaries with fierce love. Living in the tension will be tense.
It will require a humility beyond anything we have imagined. It will require grace deeper than we have fathomed. It will require love more extensive than we can divine.
It requires a relationship with the Divine. We will have to press deep into Him for answers that aren’t easy. He will have to lead the way. He will have to show us justice. He will have to bow us in humility. He will lead our hand to extend mercy. And only He will know how to do it all in a perfectly orchestrated reach of eternal love.
Press in brothers and sisters. We have work to do. We have a church to build.
He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8