“You and I must guard ourselves against sinful reactions to what happens to us.” David, the Shepherd King, was a man who was hurt by many people, but he realized he was still responsible for his reactions to that hurt. This was one of the things I believe made David a man after God’s heart. Sadly to say, I have seen too many Christians use being hurt as an excuse for their own sin. Do you and I have a David like attitude towards those who hurt us? How can we?
David was hurt by his own family. When Samuel came to announce the next king of Israel, David’s family didn’t even call him to the meeting. David was hurt by the family he married into. His father in law, Saul, wanted him dead. His wife, Michal, disdained his worship of God. When he was on the run from Saul, his own men became so downcast they thought about putting David to death. Then, due to Saul’s hatred, David was not able to rely on his best friend Jonathan. He had to distance himself from those he loved and saw God put them to death through the Philistines. David knew hurt. He also knew the faithfulness of God.
I remember in my early 20’s I was being discipled by a man who taught me the difference between being hurt and sinful anger. I had been hurt. Hurt by several people. Disappointed by adults that should have known better. But, I was still responsible for my reactions to that hurt. At that time in my life, I had allowed hurt to turn into anger and bitterness towards those who wronged me. And that was my choice. No one put a gun to my head and made me become bitter. What I needed was not to be vindicated, but to repent of the anger and bitterness I had allowed to creep into my heart.
If we think that because we have been hurt we now have a blank check to act however we feel, we are wrong. Someone else’s sin, or perceived sin, does not justify our own wrong, sinful responses.
And now enters grace. Aren’t you glad God does not deal with us the way we often act towards one another? Our sin is an affront to God’s holiness. Our sin hurts Him. But, even when God disciplines His children, He does so through the grace of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Don’t get me wrong, sin must be dealt with. As leaders in churches, we are called to “convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). All to often church leaders take a cowardly approach to dealing with a sinning brother or sister. Confronting sin is not fun, but it is necessary. It is truthful and loving. Justifying sinful actions with hurt feelings is not the way of Christ.
Moses and God both told Joshua multiple times to be strong and courageous. God knew the conflict that was ahead of Joshua. God also knew He would bring Joshua through it in victory. It was Joshua that needed the encouragement to be strong and courageous in the face of conflict.
When sin is confronted, it must be done so with love, with kindness, and an eye towards the grace we ourselves have received in Jesus Christ. But, it still must be confronted. After Joshua was a veteran of many wars in which he saw the faithfulness of God, he himself told the people, “Therefore be very courageous” (Joshua 23:6).
Are you hurt? What will you do? Will you have the heart of God or will you use that hurt as an excuse for sin? God’s grace enables us to move beyond who we once were and to be Christlike. Is there a sin issue in your church you have been avoiding? Be strong and courageous, loving and kind, truthful and honest. God will be faithful.
1-Deron J. Biles, After God’s Heart (Denver: Outskirts Press, 2009), 12.