There are two amazing dynamics at work in [the story of Nathan’s confrontation of David]. First, God pursues sinners. God’s love is relentless. Even when we are blinded by sin, he refuses to let go. God pursues David with a tireless love. Second, God uses sinners to pursue sinners. Nathan, like David, was a man prone to the same temptations and failures as David. But God had given Nathan a ministry in that moment. He was a sinner called to help another sinner become reconciled to God. (116-117, emphasis mine)It is a humble privilege and a sober responsibility to be a reconciliation-tool in the hand of our loving, sinner-pursuing God (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-21)! This is so important to have that orientation. We’ve always got to check our motives when we feel the need to confront someone about their sin. The glory of God, through loving rescue and reconciliation, is the goal. The goal is not winning an argument or gaining lost ground or proving your point or getting your way.
Harvey packs into this chapter a bunch of wisdom on why we pursue this ministry of reconciliation. The following quotes are worth reading with care.
- Our love ought to follow the love of God in one point, namely, in always seeking to produce reconciliation. It was to this end that God sent his Son. (117, quoting C.H. Spurgeon, emphasis mine)
- Interesting, isn’t it, how sinners who say “I do” exist in an ironic biblical tension? We are called to be merciful and withhold judgment. But we are also called to challenge one another—to correct, exhort, and speak truth to the one we love (Hebrews 3:12-13). This can seem like a paradox, even an apparent contradiction in our call. But it’s not. On the contrary, God has set us in our marriage, at this time, with this person so that we can perform an extraordinary task of ministry. We can fulfill the call of reconciliation—turning a wandering believer back to the God who saves. We can love by bringing truth in gracious ways; applying grace through speaking the truth. When we do this ministry, we not only fulfill the role of Nathan, we represent our Lord Jesus Christ, who came and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). (120, emphasis mine)
- I don’t want my spouse to be convinced by my earnestness, as if my good intentions could confer any power to change. I want my loved one to turn to God in repentance, if he or she has indeed sinned. I don’t want my words to make a spouse feel “caught” in sin, because I don’t want to create a temptation to be more concerned with fixing a problem than encountering God. Confrontation is not a “gotcha”event.
I want my spouse to encounter the Holy Spirit, sent to convict the world of sin (John 16:8), and thus to experience the cleansing and faith-inspiring work of godly sorrow over sin. This is what we see in David as the gravity of his sin begins to dawn on him. “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). (129, emphasis mine)
- Your spouse’s sin is not first about you, it may affect you, but the most important thing it reveals is your spouse’s relationship with God. A meek spouse seeking to help the other will make that relationship with God the first priority. He or she will recognize that the ultimate hope for change lies in a response toward God, not a capitulation to the spouse. (131, emphasis mine)