Now and Then

by Bob James

I know that I am supposed to get a new article up by Wednesday morning, and here it is Thursday before I am writing it. But you know, I have been very busy! I had a chess tournament to play in, my kids needed help fixing their bikes, I had to clean up around the house and I have had to help other people work on their webpages. I have a lot of good reasons for not getting this up on time. But you know, not one of those reasons is good enough, because if the truth is told, I had plenty of time to do it. Don't you just hate excuses? I do. I think God does too. As we look today at Psalm 51, think about your own excuses for whatever the problem may be.

For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned, And done what is evil in Thy sight, So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, And blameless when Thou dost judge. (Psalm 51:3-4)

David wrote these words after Nathan confronted David with the facts of his horrendous sin. Not only had David committed adultery, when Bathsheba became pregnant, he tried to cover it up, then arranged for Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, to be killed in battle. Lust, adultery, conspiracy, murder...and the list of David's sins could go on for a long time. Why then was David called "a man after [God's] own heart?" (I Samuel 13:14)

David's reaction when confronted with his sin showed why. He didn't hide or deny his sin. He didn't cover up his sin. He didn't offer excuses. He admitted his sin. He accepted responsibility. He showed that he recognized that his sin was first and foremost against God. "But wait a minute!" you may cry out. "What about Bathsheba? What about Uriah? They suffered the most."

No one can doubt their sufferings for David's sin. David wronged them terribly. There is no excuse for his actions towards them. But all sin is an attack on the idea that God has a plan for our lives and should be in ultimate control of all things. David sinned against God by showing that he didn't accept God's view of marriage or the sanctity of life. He didn't accept God's views of relationships. This, ultimately, is sin: separation from God. David, in spite of his terrible behavior, recognized this.

We have seen a lot of apologies in public life recently. Apologies are good. David should have apologized to Bathsheba, Uriah and the nation for his actions. When we sin against another person, we need to apologize to them as well as to God. But we never can forget that sin itself is ultimately a rejection of God's plan for our lives. When we understand that God desires good for us, and follow His plan, we draw closer to Him. When we forget that, we separate ourselves from him. As the words to a postcard on my grandmother's curio cabinet read, "When God seems far away, who moved?"

Prayer of Commitment: We come to You without excuses, Heavenly Father. We recognize that we have sinned against You by desiring our own way and not Your's. We seek your forgiveness and ask You to give us the strength to live each day in harmony with Your will. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

(NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible (c) 1975 by The Lockman Foundation.)

(c) 1997 by Bob James. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to distribute this article to others without charge as long as this notice is attached. This article may not be distributed commercially either individually or as part of any anthology without the express written consent of the author.


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