Sometime back I go an email from a friend. I had written a devotional about speaking the truth in love. She replied back, asking me to write about receiving the truth in love. Apparently she had confronted someone with the truth and they did not take it very well. We want people to speak to us in love, but what about when we have been confronted by the truth.
I remember the time I met with a young man that had just joined our church with his wife, or so we thought. The next day my assistant showed me the decision cards of the two individuals. They had the same address but different last names. I asked about this when we met. He said that they were not married but living together. As compassionately and sensitively as I could, I explained that as a church we would encourage them to live separately until they got married. And, until then they couldn’t be members of the church. They could attend, but not be members. We teach that people should be married before they live together. He got angry. He stormed out of the meeting. I never heard from him since. He did not receive the truth well.
David, the Old Testament hero, on the other hand, received the truth well, even when confronted by his sin. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Then, he tried to cover it up by having her husband killed. God was not happy by David’s lack of morality. God sent the prophet, Nathan, to confront David with the truth.
To communicate the truth, Nathan told a story. The story was about a rich man who kills his poor neighbor’s pet lamb to feed a traveler, staying overnight. David didn’t seem to realize that he was the rich man, Uriah was the poor man, and Bathsheba was the ewe lamb he had stolen. The “traveler” whom the rich man fed represents the temptation and lust that visited David on the roof and then controlled him. Upon hearing the story about a rich man with many sheep who mercilessly took the only pet lamb of a poor man and slaughtered it for his dinner guest, David’s anger flared at the rich man in the story. Nathan sprung the trap and told David the truth: “You are the man!”
That day, through Nathan’s story, David heard not just the voice of his prophet or the voice of the people who didn’t like what they saw, David heard the voice of God and he knew it. He did not excuse, blame, or deflect the truth when confronted. He knew he was guilty. He knew he was wrong. David confessed his sin immediately, without denial, and without excuse. David saw his sin, as “against the Lord.” David received God’s forgiveness for his sin. And, tragically and painfully, David came to understand and experience the consequences for his wrongful behavior. (The child died.)
The crucial question is: How do you respond when someone—a friend, a parent, or God—confronts you with the truth? Do you shake your fist in their face and exclaim, “It’s not fair!” Do you pout and say, “See if I ever listen to you again?”
David’s response was to receive the truth. He submitted to God’s dealings with him. He said in effect, “You are God; your ways are right. I will do what is right.”
When confronted by the truth it can hurt, but it is the only way to true healing.