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Story Archives: Bible's King David learned firsthand of God's grace
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|Bible's King David learned firsthand of God's grace|
The church will tell us to have a humble heart and be quick to forgive, but they don't always tell us how. Brian Regan, one of my favorite comedians, tells about having high cholesterol. In his visit with the doctor he is handed a list of foods that cause high cholesterol.
He sheepishly looks at the doctor and says, "I know how to get it." In turn, we know about sin and guilt. How do we move past it? We hear quite a bit about a humble heart, but how do we achieve it? I have jokingly replied that I am most proud of my humility. The irony about a humble heart is that the moment we realize an ounce of humility in our hearts, we feel a twinge of pride.
St. Peter references a Proverb when he writes, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." For most of us, when we consider the "proud" we think of those who think they are "all that" those who see themselves as being better than the rest of us. We not only relish the Proverb, "Pride cometh before the fall," we hold it as a promise instead of a threat. Immediately we find ourselves better than those who think they are better than us! Do you see what I mean? It's quite mind-boggling.
Maybe we should consider another kind of pride that hinders us from a humble heart. Those who think their shame is too great, their wrongdoings are too massive, their guilt is too overwhelming, their sorrows run too deep or their lives are too far gone. In other words, "God's love, mercy and grace may be enough for you, but I'm the exception."
So many of us find comfort in reading the Psalms. We sing "Wash me and I will be writer than snow" and we envision a gentle waterfall cascading over our lives. I must admit, this is a beautiful picture of God's forgiveness. But when David the harp-playing, psalm-writing, shepherd boy who became king wrote those words, he had a different picture in mind.
He saw his life as filthy and sin-stained. The Hebrew word he uses for "wash" is not describing how one might wash one's face or simply rinse a dish. It refers to washing clothes by beating them against a rock or using a scrub board. It's evident that David wants the sin and guilt removed from his life, no matter what the cost.
It is obvious that David chooses a humble spirit. He could have chosen a prideful heart not the one that says "I don't need God." but the life that says, "My sin is too horrible for God's forgiveness, my circumstances are too devastating for God's grace, my life is too hopeless for a miracle." Certainly, it takes great arrogance to assume that what I've done or where I am in life is more powerful than God.
Dare we think that God doesn't love us enough? Certainly this prideful attitude will keep us from experiencing God's grace. But how beautiful it is to see a life restored, to see how God can take a life that is "ruined" and create a new life with a new hope and a new direction. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!" Even though King David didn't pen this line, he certainly knew of this wonderful grace.
When the prophet Nathan confronts King David of his sins, he also shares the promise that the LORD has forgiven him. Even though there will be consequences, God will not forsake him.
So, how do we get there from here? St, Peter continues by saying, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you." In other words, "God forgives you. God loves you." I can't think of a better place to start
Jo Ann Cooper is a United Methodist pastor of the LA Conference.