I had a rough day with one of my children yesterday. She has become very disrespectful to me over a period of time and because I am busy and so often overwhelmed already, I have not dealt with this behavior in her. To my shame, I have not taken the time to teach her how important it is to respect people that God has put in authority over us. Yesterday it became apparent how badly I need to take care of this issue. We argued, I became frustrated, we yelled at each other and the day was shot. There were lots of tears and at the end of a long conversation I apologized to my daughter for not being a better parent and allowing her to continue in this behavior. And we talked about how I forgave her, but there would be consequences as a result of her lack of respect (as there will be on my end too, I suspect).
We have been talking about David in a series at church. Last week and today the focus of the sermon was on David’s sin with Bathsheba and the fall-out from that choice. The pastor spoke about the difference between forgiveness and consequence. So many times we sin, realize that we were wrong and then repent and are forgiven. The problem is that we think that the situation is then over. It could well be, or we could be forgiven and yet to experience the consequences of our sin. I believe this to be a bigger issue in our lives than we realize. Our sin, does in fact, breed consequences, even when we are completely broken and stand in a right relationship with God.
David’s life is such an example of this concept. After he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had Uriah her husband murdered he was confronted by the prophet Nathan. (This takes place in 2 Samuel chapters 11-12) After David’s conversation with Nathan he is obviously repentant and broken of his sin. If you read in Psalms 51, his prayer of repentance after this talk, he begs God for mercy, realizes his sinfulness and desires a renewed sprit and heart. David understood the depth of his sin, but he also suffered the consequences for that sin in the years to follow.
In 2 Samuel 12:13-14 the Bible says, “Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."
Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die."
The prophet Nathan, sent by God to have this conversation with David tells David the cost of his sin – his son will die. In fact, over the years David buries four of his own children. The consequences for him were huge even though he was forgiven.
There is something in our finite brain that struggles with this concept of consequence. We try to teach it to our children by disciplining them for their poor behavior, and yet I wonder if we really understand it ourselves as it relates to our Father. God forgives us (given we are truly repentant) and loves us deeply, but allows our sinful actions to play out in our lives. David was still used by God, loved by God and honored in the Bible as a man whose heart was like that of God, even while he suffered the penalty of the sinful choices he made. It will be the same for me, for my daughter and for all of us as we strive to be righteous and yet realize that part of the lessons we learn in this life will involve learning to deal with the fall-out from poor choices we have made along the way. I’m thankful that my Father loves me regardless, as I do my daughter, and will give me the strength to deal with even the consequences of my own poor decisions.