Wednesday, April 09, 2008

David, Bathsheba, and Nathan: How to be a Nathan Friend

Read text from 2 Samuel 11-12 (printed in below post).

We need to speak truth to one another as Nathan the prophet spoke to David. Then the truth will be known and our sins can be forgiven.

I have a lot of good friends on whom I call when things are yucky at my house. I might be angry at my husband, or upset that my house is a mess, or something of that nature. I usually pick the friend that I will call based on what I want to hear. If I want to hear "oh you poor thing" then I call one set of friends. If I want to hear "here's what you're doing wrong and here's how to fix it" I call a different set of friends. You see I need real honesty and I know who I will get it from. I need people to speak truth to me. If I am feeling wronged there may be some legitimacy in that. Maybe the kids are being really mean and disrespectful. But there is always a right way and a wrong way to react. I can be angry and mean in return, fighting about it, or I can choose to react the way God wants me to react--usually by praying, getting over the wrong I've been done, and moving on with a new spirit.

We need "Nathan" friends and counselors. There have been times very recently in my life where I have felt overwhelmed and out of energy. And I had some great friends who came and helped me get out of my immediate mess, by helping me clean or pack or just by encouraging me. And I really really appreciate those humble friends. They are supportive and encouraging. But I know I sometimes need a kick in the pants. I need someone to tell me they are sad I'm having a rough time but that I need to get over it and get on with doing what I know I need to do. The other day I was really mad at Joel. And I didn't want to put on a happy face for when he arrived home. I wanted to pick a fight. But I called one particular friend and she set me straight. She helped me get to the root of the problem and work through that, and then she told me to wash my face and continue with my job (putting the kids to bed) and to just greet Joel nicely when he got home. And she was right. In that situation I needed to respect my husband and the work he was doing out of the house.

It is not easy to be a Nathan friend. I have a couple of my own but I don't know that I am very good at being Nathan to others.
There are four points in being in a Nathan friend relationship.
1This the first point, and an important one. If you see sin in your friend's life, help your friend see the sin they are committing. Nathan saw a sin in David's life. So he went to David and told him a parable in order to teach David without getting his defenses up. Nathan showed the injustice David was doing. Where Nathan was the voice of God at the time of David, today we Christians all have the Spirit of God living in us. 2 Timothy 1:14. We have to be able to draw out the person, to find the heart of the problem without having the other person's guard come up. Perhaps I've done this occasionally. I might share "what works for me." But I need to do this more often and pray for clear sight to discern the real problem.

2The second point is possibly the hardest. After David agrees that a horrible thing has been done to the little lamb, Nathan calls him out. YOU ARE THAT MAN. This naming the sin for what it is is very difficult.

Though you may not realize it, you, Sarah, are sinning when you disrespect your husband. You may not call him swear words, but the children know when your attitude is wrong. They know the unspoken part and will repeat it.

You, Sarah, are being prideful (and that's sin) when you neglect your housework in favor of a job that gets more attention and recognition. 'Cause no one notices when you mop, but a lot of people notice when you're at the school unpaid.

You, Sarah, are being judgmental (and that's a sin) when you think or speak poorly of others because of what you see on on the outside. You may not know their redeeming qualities but God has given them some. And God has given them grace.

Please don't worry. Don't call the health department- my house isn't that bad. And I really am a good mom and wife. I'm not asking for pity or judgment. I'm giving you examples of sin that are in my life, and that are possibly in the lives of some others of us here. Pity and judgment are not helpful. I am pointing this out to you so that you may know the truth, and it will set you free. So that you can be restored as David was in Psalm 51.

3The third point in our Nathan relationship is confession. David didn't bother giving Nathan a laundry list of his sad times. He didn't present excuses. He didn't whine about his bad day. He didn't have Nathan executed. He said "I have sinned against the LORD."

Being a Nathan friend is hard. You may not be appreciated as much. Your friends may get mad at you. But it is necessary that you be willing to play this part when God calls you to do it. And you can still jump in with your hurting sister and help her clean her house (PLEASE!!!). It's just that we also need to call sin out.

4Finally the last point is restoration. And here's the best part of the whole lesson. After you've figured out your problem with the help of your Nathan friend, and rooted out the festering sin, you get to let it go! Confess it and be restored! God is just waiting there to be acknowledged, and he's just waiting to clean your heart. Confess your sin! Anger against your husband? Call it out and be healed. Lust for a neighbor? Call it out and be redeemed. Laziness? Pride? Yes, even these. Call them out. Be renewed. Pray that your Nathan friends will help you find these sins before they fester. David had already committed murder and adultery before Nathan came along. Pray that your Nathan friends will talk to you before that point. Because while God doesn't count one sin worse than another, murder has far-reaching ramifications. Romans 3:22

If you don't have any Nathan friends, I can recommend some. :)


BP said...

That's great. I hope the class is receptive to what you have to say. This is the second time this week I've read about David and Nathan. Thank you for all of this and for touching my heart.

BP said...

I'm going to link to this on my blog today, I hope that is okay.

Kim P. said...

This is something I struggle with alot. Sometimes it's hard for me to discern when I'm being honest with someone or when I'm judging them based on my own values. And even when I know I have truth to share, sometimes I'm not brave enough to share it because I'm afraid it will hurt the friendship. But that's not a good friend thing to do, because then it's about making people like me instead of being what THEY need. Thanks...I needed to read this!

Alyson said...

Looks like it all came out okay! :) I'm sure you did great yesterday and were dressed appropriately and EVERYTHING!

Amy said...

Very well done, Sarah. I am very proud of you. You did a great job. And it is a very good point.

I promise to always tell you if you have pesto in your teeth.