Who Can Show Us The Way?
It was clear we were in over our heads. When we moved from a small city to our new acreage home on a sunny October day, all had seemed well. Then came December.
We were totally unequipped for the amount of snow removal required. My husband located an old Farmall M tractor with a bucket. But it was the first tractor he had ever driven, much less owned. Maintaining a cranky 50 year-old piece of equipment demanded some know-how.
That winter, Nick turned to our closest farmer neighbor for the answers to his many questions: What’s wrong with this hose? What kind of fluid do you use and where do you get it? Where can you get the right size clamps?
The answers helped most when the two men were in the barn together, and our neighbor could show my husband exactly what to do.
Information plus demonstration proved to be the winning combination. Soon my husband was confidently operating and maintaining the tractor, and it met our needs for over ten years.
My husband needed a country-living mentor. Over the years I have needed teacher mentors, musician mentors, and mom mentors.
The same principle applies to faith. We grow by watching others and asking questions. Slowly, I have learned to seek out the counsel I need. And I have recently discovered another area where I need help.
I need a “making-up mentor.” Maybe you do too. It helps to observe people who are good at making apologies and receiving them, at honestly talking about a hurt and then moving forward.
Sometimes we can find flesh-and-blood people like that right around us. If we can’t, there is still hope. In addition to instruction, God’s word is full of stories of people who hurt others and were hurt.
Last week, we looked at Jacob and Esau’s relationship and learned what not to do. As my husband often says, each of us can be either an example or a warning!
The story of King David’s sin with Bathsheba is certainly a warning about trying to cover up our sin. But in the aftermath, David is an example of how to truly confess and be restored.
For all the details, you may want to read 2 Samuel 11 and 12. For right now, I want to focus on one crucial sentence. When the prophet Nathan confronts David with his sin, his response is, “I have sinned against the Lord.”
Notice what he doesn’t say. David doesn’t try to deny his guilt. He offers no excuses. He doesn’t blame anyone else. He simply acknowledges his guilt.
As a supplement to the book of 2 Samuel, Psalm 51 gives us a more complete picture of David’s response after his discovery and confession. Here are 3 keys verses:
“For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me” (v. 3)
David truly understands the weight of his wrongdoing. He does not try to minimize it in any way. As he talks with God about it, he maintains a humble tone rather than a defensive one. He is willing to take full responsibility.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (v. 10)
There is a difference between being sorry we got caught, and truly repenting. With this request, David shows that he wants God’s help so that he can not only do better, but also be a man of godly character. He is willing to change.
“Then I will teach transgressors your ways,” (v.13)
David understands that his grave sin can still have a redemptive outcome. Not only can God transform him, but he can also use David to come alongside other struggling sinners for their restoration. He is willing to be used by God.
In this Psalm, I find the heart of a mentor I can really learn from. David pours out not only his deep regret for his sin, but his desire to return to a right relationship with God. It is a pattern I can follow as I confess sin to God, and as I apologize to others.
Will it be easy? No!
Just as following our farmer friend’s advice about our tractor cost my husband effort and a willingness to get his hands dirty, maintaining relationships can be messy.
I would much rather try to smooth things over and pretend conflict didn’t happen, trying to ignore the tension below the surface. It is difficult to go to a person I have hurt and face the issue head-on. But the reward is a clean start, and a relationship that works better.
If we let God use his Word to show us healthy ways to mend relationships, there is a multiplying benefit. As we follow, we become leaders. The effect is felt in our homes, our workplaces and the Church. It will be worth every faltering step we take along the way.