Tag Archives: tolerating sin

May 7; First Things First

2 Samuel 5:13-16, 13:1-5:6; I Chronicles 145:3-7, 3:4-9

Amnon committed a sexual sin with his sister Tamar. What he did to her was vile and inexcusable. There should have been severe consequences for his behavior. But we don’t read that David, his father (and Tamar’s), said or did anything to Amnon.

Did David remember his own sexual sin he had committed with Bathsheba? Did the fact that the king had taken many women into his own bed prevent him from taking a stand against the sin Amnon committed?

Years ago I had a friend whose 18 year old daughter moved in with her boyfriend. My friend was not happy about it, but she threw up her hands and said to me, “How can I say anything? I did the same thing when I was 18.”

I wonder if she was giving her daughter permission to commit EVERY sin she herself ever committed, or just that one? I’ve come to believe that having committed sins in our past, then repenting and experiencing God’s forgiveness for those sins, gives us every right to speak up. I’d go so far as to say it gives us the responsibility to speak up. David took the easy, the comfortable way out and kept silent.

It angers me that Amnon was allowed to go on with life as though nothing had happened. Yet Tamar, the victim, ended up living in her brother Absalom’s house, “a desolate woman.” For whatever reason, Amnon’s sin was never addressed by David, and Amnon never repented.

Well it angered Absalom, too. Because two years later, Absalom had his brother Amnon killed. Yet another example of someone committing a sin to pay back a sin. When will we learn? What we see is another sin that is never addressed.

Absalom takes off and hides in Geshur. Good riddance, right? I mean the guy murdered his brother. Nope. Scripture tells us David “mourned for his son every day.” But even mourning his son’s absence didn’t prompt David to confront the sin. I believe that’s why, when the woman from Tekoa came to David, she could easily convince David to take Absalom back.

I mean, she invoked the name of God, so what she said must be true, right? “Send for poor Absolom, Bring him home. Accept him. You’re like an angel of God, David. You’ll do the right thing,”

So David, without asking God what he should do, invites Absalom home. Sounds like the Christian thing to do. I mean, who are we to judge?

What is glaringly missing from this account is any repentance on the part of Amnon or Absalom. Amnon died without asking for forgiveness. And Absalom doesn’t admit guilt, doesn’t ask for forgiveness for the murder of his brother.

Yet we read that eventually, David welcomes Absolom with open arms and kisses anyway. We will read more of this story, and see how embracing an unrepentant sinner will effect David and his entire kingdom.

Folks, welcoming sinners into the Church body is as destructive as David welcoming Absalom into his home. I believe Scripture is clear that repentance HAS to come first. The church that embraces sinners (who in reality are God’s enemies), the church that accepts sin, and refuses to keep the fellowship holy, is doomed for destruction. I know this is contrary to what most of us believe because it sounds so harsh, so unloving. But in reality, it’s the only loving thing to do.

I believe with all my heart that churches aren’t dying because of the hymns they sing on Sunday morning, or the lack of fancy technology, or a foyer with no coffee shop. Churches are dying because of sin in our midst. God will not bless sin. God cannot be present where sin is allowed to exist. Making our churches a comfortable place for sinners to come is counterproductive. That has never been what church was intended to be.

I think the account we see here of David’s life is an example of what happens when sin is allowed to exist without being addressed. I see Scripture telling us we need to keep the Church holy, undefiled, an exclusive organization for believers only. But I also believe Scripture is clear that we who are members of God’s Church need to be out there loving on people who haven’t dealt with their sin, spreading the Gospel, leading people to the Savior, making disciples, THEN inviting them to church.

First things first. And repentance has to be the first thing.

 

 

June 21 – First Love

I Kings 10-11, 2 Chronicles 9

My sister Kathy and I were talking yesterday about the passages in Ecclesiastes I’d been reading. We were remarking about how Solomon was not only the wisest man who ever lived, he was the richest.  And as far as I can tell he was the most self-indulgent person on record, too.

Solomon had it all. And it became his ruin.

Kathy said something that has me thinking today as I read about Solomon’s turn from God. She wondered how the same man who wrote The Song Of Solomon, the man who was totally devoted to his first love, and who was loved like that in return, could end up with 700 wives and 300 more women he had sex with. How did he go from that precious first love, so pure, intense, and exclusive, to such a mind-boggling disregard for that love?

The answer is in the chapters I read today. It happened gradually. One day, one step at a time.

Most likely some of the women were gifts from neighboring kings. But Solomon welcomed them into his home. And he allowed them to bring their detestable idols with them. Everything God had warned him to avoid.

I don’t think Solomon woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll worship Ashtoreth today.” But Scripture tells us eventually Solomon became a worshiper of that Sidonian god, and a worshiper of other imaginary gods as well.

Did it start out with curiosity? Solomon seems to be a man who loved learning everything he could. Maybe he thought observing his wives go through their pagan rituals was a learning experience, would help him understand his wives better. I don’t know. The Bible just says this about King Solomon:

For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. (I Kings 11:4)

That makes me sad. The Bible seems to indicate that Solomon kept his first wife, his first love, separate from the others. Built her a better house. Maybe spent more time with her than with the others. Probably gave her roses on their anniversary or a box of candy on Valentines Day. But the reality is he had something else going on, too. And that something else ended up turning his heart away from God.

The Bible takes it a step further:

Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did not follow the Lord fully, as David his father had done. (I Kings 11:6)

Solomon who built that incredible temple, who was so gifted with wisdom and power and material wealth. Solomon who represented God to the nations around him. Ended up being remembered for doing evil in the sight of the Lord.

Fast forward a few thousand years. What would God want me to take away from Solomon’s life? I find myself checking my relationship with my own first love.

The early church in Ephesus was a vibrant, busy congregation who persevered, did not tolerate sin, even called their preachers out when the preachers weren’t speaking the truth. But Rev 2:4 reports what God says about that church in Ephesus:

But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.

That’s where God is nudging me this morning. I can think about Solomon and wonder about his fall, but there is a more important truth to consider. And that is my own heart’s condition before my Lord.

The question I need to answer today is this: Is my heart “wholly devoted” to God? Or have I tolerated a bit of sin in my life? Have I begun to take those steps away from God that I consider no big deal at the moment? Do I serve Him out of love? Do I nurture that love, think about Him, talk about Him, spend time with Him? Is God the focus of my life or not?

Solomon is going to be required to give an answer for his heart’s condition before the same Holy God I’m going to give an account to. What will my answer be?

God, I want to love You like You deserve to be loved. I want to keep You the focus of my thoughts and actions. I want to walk with You, include You in every minute of every day. And I want to forsake all others, keep myself only for You, resist the devil. I want to serve You out of a heart of love and devotion. It’s You and me, Lord. Just You and me.