January 30, 2023

“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”

-Psalm 51:4

I think this scenario can apply to all of us, whether we ride a motorcycle or not.  How many of you have been out riding, or even driving, and someone does something so incredibly brazen that you just don’t even know what to think?  First you are shocked, then maybe you are angry, but you certainly think to yourself that the individual who just did this awful thing is probably one of the worst drivers alive and they couldn’t possibly have any clue how to actually drive safely on the roads.

I had this happen one time on a fairly busy stretch of road.  I was in the right lane, coming up on an entrance to a local restaurant.  I was a few hundred yards from the entrance and could see a minivan sitting there waiting to turn into the traffic.  Nothing was between either of us.  They seemed to be waiting for me to pass before they entered the traffic flow, as there was nothing behind me and there were a few vehicles in the left lane, going the same direction.  However, when I was within about 100 feet of the van they decided it was time to make their turn!  I could not maneuver into the left lane because of other traffic and I couldn’t go to the shoulder of the road because of a ditch and construction barrels.  So, I ended up riding the broken line between the left and right lanes and came to a stop at the next traffic light with the minivan sitting right beside me.  A thousand things went through my head of what I could do, but I remained in my seat and just stared in the driver window, hoping they would look at me.  The driver kept his attention focused straight ahead and never once turned his head, not even to offer up an apology for almost causing an accident.  The light turned green, I let them accelerate ahead of me and I calmed myself down and went on with my ride.  Unfortunately, the whole time I couldn’t get the accident that never was out of my head and I thought that this guy had to be the most inept driver on the planet, and I cannot count the number of ways I judged him.  Thanks to his South Carolina license plate, I even judged every driver in that entire state.  I was angry, but I, fortunately, didn’t lash out.  Eventually, it all went away.

The truth is that my  judgment was unfair and unfounded.  Yes, the minivan driver made a mistake.  This may have been isolated incident and hardly serves a basis for judging someone on their ability to drive.  That minivan driver could have been the best, and safest driver on the road, but  a mental lapse led them to pull out in front of me.  The point is, I had no reason to make a judgment about this person based on that one moment.  

We do this all of the time, whether we admit it or not.  We witness an event, we hear something said, and we form an opinion of that person in our mind that defines how we see them from that point forward.  Maybe it is the way they dress, the way they talk, how much money they make.  We make judgements about people each and every day, often without ever really knowing anything about them.  What if God operated in the same manner?  What if God made an eternal judgment about you based on a single snapshot taken at some point in your life?  Would that seem fair to you?  Most likely, you would be worried about what moment in your life God chose to focus on.  Is it that time you lost your temper with your spouse and said things you regret?  Or what about that time you saw that attractive man or woman on the beach and you let your eyes linger a little too long?  Maybe it is one of the countless times you told that little white lie to someone.  Truthfully, we could fill a book with all of the things we would hope God didn’t use as the sole basis for His judgment of our lives.  Fortunately, that is not how He operates.  God sees all the way to eternity past and eternity future, and all at once.  Try wrapping your mind around that.  God is seeking to draw you to Him, not have you run in fear every day of your life.  If He judged us, based on a single moment in time, as we so often do ourselves, then the number of people who might make it to heaven would be much smaller if not zero.

Let us consider the verse for this week, from the 51st Psalm.  This Psalm was written by David.  If you are not familiar with David, then let me provide you with these words for some context, they are found in Acts chapter 13 verse 22:

“And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’”

-Acts 13:22

Those words “a man after my heart” are extraordinarily powerful.  How incredible it must be to have God say that one of us was someone who is in pursuit of His own heart!  Someone who has that phrase bestowed upon them must be one of the finest people to ever live.  Right?  Well, let’s take a snapshot of David’s life, which happens to be the darkest recorded period of his life that we find in the Bible.  Let’s start with a few verses from 2 Samuel, chapter 11:

“It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, ‘Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, ‘I am pregnant.’”

-2 Samuel 11:2-5

Wait, did those verses just tell us that David was an adulterer?  Bathsheba was identified as the wife of Uriah, but David took her for himself and she became pregnant with David’s child.  I’m sure that snapshot would not get David into heaven if God were to judge him on this moment.  But like the TV commercials say, “wait, there’s more!”  Let’s skip down a few verses in 2 Samuel, chapter 11:

“In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. In the letter he wrote, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, that he may be struck down, and die.’ And as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant men. And the men of the city came out and fought with Joab, and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite also died.”

-2 Samuel 11: 14-17

So, let’s get this straight.  David sees a beautiful woman, Bathsheba, who was married to Uriah.  He took Bathsheba and she became pregnant with his child.  Then, he compounded his sin by sending Uriah into battle, at the forefront, with the explicit intention of getting him killed.  That’s the Cliff’s Notes version, but somehow we find that David was a man after God’s own heart.  Surely everything that we just discovered about David should have condemned him to an eternity in hell.  What changed the course of David’s eternal path happened when the prophet Nathan visited him.  Shortly after this visit, David wrote the 51st Psalm.  David was convicted of his sin, he was heartbroken for his sinful betrayal of those he hurt, but most importantly he is acutely aware that ultimately ALL sin is against God.  David wrote this Psalm, fully aware of the punishment and judgment he deserved.  Yet he was still deemed to be a man after God’s own heart.  So what changed?  How can this be that a man who slept with another man’s wife and had her husband killed, how could God find any favor in him?  It’s simple, it’s because God doesn’t judge us based on a moment in time, God bases His righteous judgment on the entirety of our lives, but that doesn’t necessarily mean from the day we are born until the day we die.  It means it is based on the moment we are born again until the day we die.  David repented of his atrocious sins and surrendered himself to God.  Now, I am sure that his life, from that point forward, had its moments of sin but nothing compared to anything he had done previously.  Also, he was now aware of just how his sin separates him from God.  So David would do like any of us should do, he turned to God and repented.  This doesn’t mean we can perpetually get away with adultery and murder, and God will keep forgiving us.  Not at all.  What it means is that when we confess Christ as our Lord and Savior, we live out the words that we find in Ephesians chapter 4:

“to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

-Ephesians 4:22-24

We die to the old ways of who we once were and now we strive to live in the likeness of God.  Yes, we will still fail, but now we have a purpose and a hope.  God will be faithful to those who turn their hearts and lives over to Him and are obedient to His will for their lives.  I simply ask that you seek God with all your heart and that one day you can be deemed one after God’s own heart.  God’s judgment is righteous, but those who are saved by grace through faith will not fear the judgment that is to come.

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