You can refresh your memory by first reading the story in 2 Samuel 12:1-14.
This chapter reminds us that
…when someone close to you is running from the truth, love demands that you speak. Sometimes love must risk peace for the sake of truth. (116)Wisely, Harvey did not put this chapter first. He knows that we are natural-born finger-pointers and we can patrol for speck-crimes like a cop on the beat. Before we are ready to take up the scalpel and do spiritual surgery on our spouses, we’ve got to humbly submit ourselves to spiritual surgery. Chapters 1-6 helped us do that. They had us focus in on our own sin and up on our merciful God before we focus out on our spouse’s sin.
Others of us have a different problem. We don't feel like we ever have the right or the place to address another person's sin. We are painfully aware of how short we fall and feel like we would be hypocritical or arrogant to attempt to do so. Or, we think we might do more harm than good.
The skills we possess seem so inadequate, we wonder if it wouldn’t be less traumatic to the “patient” to do nothing at all. (121)Truth be told, we also fear such encounters and like the path of least resistance. We don't want to upset the other person or deal with the potential fall-out from such a confrontation. In this case, we are governed by our fear of (wo)man.
Indeed, true biblical wisdom will often have a courageous edge to it, as we walk in faith, seeking to please God in all things. It might seem that life will be easier if we take the timid path of avoiding certain uncomfortable truths or winking at selected sins, but we always reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7-9). … If we avoid confrontation, we’ll just get confrontation anyway, because sin unaddressed is sin unconfined. In an attempt to preserve peace, we sow war. (126-127, emphasis mine)So, we must know our tendencies – to attack or to avoid – and we must learn to walk the Christlike road of courageous care. Nathan walked that road. And we will need to walk it for our spouse. And our spouse will need to walk it for us.
Do you have a Nathan? Does your spouse have a better Nathan than you?
We all need a Nathan. We all need someone who can discern a slow drift or a rapid freefall from God, look us in the eye, and say, “You are the one.”
It is inevitable. In navigating through a fallen world with a sinful heart, from time to time your spouse will experience a pattern of sin that extinguishes joy and saps the soul, revealing dangerous corrosion in one’s character or relationship with God. Perhaps, just like David, your spouse will even be locked in denial and doing everything possible to hide the truth. Such sin cannot, must not, go unaddressed.
Look around. Who can play the Nathan role for your spouse? Who will take on the ministry of reconciliation? This needs to be someone appointed by God, close enough to see, and humble enough to be concerned more about God’s righteousness than about people’s opinions. There’s really only one likely candidate: You.
What will you do in those times when truth is absolutely necessary? What will you do when your spouse needs a Nathan? (117-118)