Specks and Logs, Logs and Specks

Reading for the day (Sunday, June 18, 2017):

2 Samuel 12:1-9

 

Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.  Amen.

 

Today’s story centers on King David.  Now we don’t have time to cover the entire story of King David.  Because it would take too long to tell how God chose David among all of Jesse’s sons.  Or how as a little boy, David defeated Goliath, the Philistine.  Or even how David made Israel a great nation, conquered Jerusalem, and paved the way for a temple to be built (which was later built by King Solomon).

King David is known as a great king who had many accomplishments and who was very successful.  However, no one is perfect.  And so the story for today is about one of King David’s biggest mistakes.  His eyes locked on a beautiful woman who was not his wife.  He desired her, got her pregnant, and tried to wiggle his way out of his sin.  But when that didn’t work, instead of confessing his wrongdoing, he committed another sin – ordering the killing of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah.  After receiving word that Uriah is dead, King David takes Bathsheba as his wife.  So this great king of Israel, known for his wonderful accomplishments and being chosen by God, not only commits adultery but also commits murder.

God certainly is not pleased with His chosen servant.  So God sends in His prophet, Nathan, to try and straighten David out.  And to easily get the point across, Nathan tells a story.  A story of a rich man and a poor man.  The rich man had many possessions.  So many possessions he probably didn’t know what to do with all of them, kind of like my kids’ toys.  The poor man had barely anything, just one lonely lamb that he loved and cared for it like it was his own child – the lamb ate and rested with the poor man.  Nathan tells David that one day a traveler came to the rich man’s house.  The traveler’s name is not even mentioned, so we can assume that this was not a very important guest of the rich man’s house; just some no named traveler stopping by.  And where did the rich man go to get food to feed his guest who wasn’t all that important?  His own barn?  No, he didn’t take from the multitude of livestock that he had.  Why waste perfectly good livestock on some no named traveler?  Instead he went and took the poor man’s one and only lamb.  As should be the case, this story upsets King David.  He is so upset that he even calls for this rich man to die because of his cold hearted action.  Then Nathan says, “David, you are that man.”

Just as it was so easy for King David to cast judgment on others, we too don’t have any problem casting judgment onto others.  It always seems easier for us to see the flaws and specks in other people’s eyes before ever noticing our own flaws and the logs in our own eyes.  David quickly jumps to call for the death of this rich man for what he had done.  But of course not seeing any fault in his own actions.  We are so quick to judge, aren’t we?  We look at the type of vehicle someone drives, or the quality of clothes they wear, or the job that they have, or how their children behave in public, and it is so easy for us to draw up a conclusion about them without even knowing the full story.  It’s like what Jesus told His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?”[1]

King David quickly found the speck in the rich man’s eye that needed to be taken out.  But when Nathan said to David, “You are that man.”  Nathan made David realize that there was a log in his own eye.

A Sunday School teacher having just finished her lesson for the day and wanted to make sure that she had made her point.  She asked the children, “Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?”  There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up. “Sin,” he said.  Sure you can’t obtain the forgiveness of sins if you haven’t sinned, but we certainly don’t need to go searching for sins to commit just so that we can receive from God the forgiveness of our sins.  We already have sinned; all of us.  We all deserve punishment for our sins.  But how can we receive the forgiveness of our sins if we never notice the log in our own eyes?  We can’t!  It’s so easy for us to see and name the sins of others, but until you acknowledge your own sin and shortcomings, you will never truly know the forgiveness of your sins.

After Nathan calls him out, King David finally notices the log in his own eyes.  He acknowledges his sin and seeks forgiveness from God.  His request is granted, God does forgive David for what he has done.

David’s confession to God for his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah has long been understood to be Psalm 51.  David begins his confession with, “Have mercy on me, O God…according to your abundant mercy…cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.”  Here David is acknowledging his sin.  He knows that he’s got a big, huge log in his own eye, and he knows that God is merciful.  He calls for God to wash him, so that he is so clean of sin that he is whiter than the snow.  And then David uses those very familiar words that we typically sing as our gifts are offered to God, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.”

If you’ve ever lost a job, or got kicked off the team, this is what David is feeling like.  He fears that because of his sin and what he did, that God will disown him.  So David confesses his faults to God and cries out, “Don’t blot me out, don’t forget about me!”  David desires restoration.  He wants to make things right again.

Our sin hinders our relationship with God.  When we truly confess our sins, we are striving to make things right with God again.  Is maybe part of the problem with society today is that we have become so prideful, that we have forgotten how to admit our faults and shortcomings, and confessing our sins to God and to each other?  I might be wrong, but I think we could be better off if we focused more on getting the log out of our own eyes than trying to find the specks in the eyes of our neighbors.

So as King David did, we cry out to God, “Have mercy on me…according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy.”  Our God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love all because of Christ’s sacrifice for us and for the forgiveness of our sins.  Because of Jesus, your heart is made clean.  In baptism you received a new and right spirit within you.  God promises to always be with you, until the end of the age – He will not cast you away from His presence.  And when you truly have received the forgiveness of your sins, meaning you truly believe that God indeed has forgiven you, then you experience that joy of your salvation that King David mentions.  That joy that you indeed are solely, and completely forgiven of all your sins and that your relationship with God has been made right.  Not because of what you have done, but because of what Jesus has done for you through the cross.  For this will certainly make us all sing for joy.  Amen.

 

© 2017 Anthony Christoffels.  All rights reserved.

[1] Matthew 7:3, NRSV

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