We have seen how sin can be crippling for the individual and those around them over the past centuries. A trusted person falls into a trap, and it becomes the leak that sinks the great ship. Biblically, we see how David tries to hide his sin after sleeping with Uriah’s wife (2Samuel 11). He conceived it, processed it and then executed it. Like that was not enough, David hatched a plan to conceal it.
When we read of such ills from our leaders, our hearts melt and sink. In chapter 2Samuel 12, Nathan, the prophet, tells David a story that would end up being a rebuke for him by painting a picture that gets David heated up. The King, in his anger, calls out the rich man who took advantage of the poor man and even proposes that the rich man be put to death. There is nothing wrong with David calling out such wickedness. But David does not seem to have all things in perspective until the axe falls on him- you are the man (2Samuel 12:7)! I can only imagine the expression on his face! I wish emojis were there then!
One thing that I am learning to tell myself, even as I fight to take heed of my heart and the flock the Lord has placed under my care, is, “You are the man!” Immediately we see David’s response- a plea for forgiveness and a recognition of the need for forgiveness. What can we glean from this as we purpose to be a people who call out sin when it comes our way!
THE FINGERS ILLUSTRATION
When you point out a finger at someone, four more fingers are pointing back at you, and, depending on how ‘cool’ your finger-pointing is, the thumb is probably pointing upwards to God. My conversation is mostly about considering our attitude in the ‘calling out of sin’ process and not necessarily the sinful or sinning person.
The one finger.
We want to see sin punished when we hear it in someone’s life- especially if they are leaders or hold some level of prominence (or anyone for that matter, as long as it is not us). Why? Because there is an integral cry of order and justice within us. It cries out, “An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.” This feeling is not for a select few but all humans, when they see injustice happening. When we point out the one finger, in a way, we are saying that the action committed is unnecessary and deserves punishment.
Having the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) means that, to some extent, we desire to see things that God upholds happen in our communities. God loves justice, righteousness and order. Man, created after the image of God, shares in a few characters of God. God cares, loves, hates evil, stands for justice and integrity. On the other hand, we want to see these qualities in man, but we are hindered by sin to execute them entirely.
Therefore the one finger is mainly justified because we are creatures of a God who upholds the same principles. Secondly, the finger goes out mostly with minimal grace and much anger and disappointment. There is nothing wrong with having such emotions because they are in us. Evil must break our hearts when done by others and confronted, for that matter but with grace and love.
The four fingers
One thing David did not seem to realize was the four fingers pointing back at him as he lashed harshly against the rich man who took advantage of a poor man in Nathan’s story. He is incensed to the extent of calling for capital punishment- death! I mean, he could not fathom how a man could do that to another. It is funny because he had done worse by sleeping with another man’s wife then plotting and killing him. The four fingers, when considered well, bring us to the experience of Jesus and the crowd who brought the lady caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11). They pointed the finger and, like David, called for capital punishment because they were not the ones on the receiving end. “Stone her!” they shouted.
Thank God for the truth that highlights our evil and makes bold with magnified fonts! John 1 tells us that the light shines in the darkness, and darkness cannot comprehend it. Jesus emphasizes the inability of darkness to withstand light in John 3:19-20, reminding us of absolute judgment for sinners. In that split second, Jesus turns the tables around, helping the crowd to come to terms with the four fingers pointing back at them, “If you are without sin, be the first to cast your stone!” He was saying that it was okay that they had caught the woman and are zealous for justice.
Look At Yourself
However, they were equally guilty and awaiting exposure? Time to recon with the four fingers had come. May the Lord remind us that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory and are only awaiting exposure in some ways. One may ask, “Should I not point at sin?” Yes, we should, but in light of our weakness and sinfulness, considering them, that point as people who need grace just as we do.
On the contrary, your brain/ mind needs to work simultaneously; call it out in others as you call it out in your life. As sharply as you call it out in others, do much more for yourself. David did not realize this for himself because he was proud. Pride makes our eyes close to our evils and think that others are worse than we are. David was ready to go for the man’s neck as were the Pharisees to go for the woman’s life! In these two instances, God reminded men/ women that much more weight exists on their end.
Therefore, practice a godly attitude in our calling out of sin. What is that attitude? “You are the man!” Yes! You are the man in need of stoning and execution. Have we met ourselves, or we are only living an illusion? We are the worst murderers, fornicators, adulterers, thieves, cheats and all others. If we held to this reality, we would have more desire for the wrongdoer to be forgiven and transformed within even as we would have others allow reforms to happen.
Finally, there is the finger that points up (I said depending on finger-pointing swag. It means that we have a witness who can make all of us melt like wax in his presence- yet he doesn’t! He says he has not dealt with us according to our sins (Psalm 103:8-10), yet he knows the sum of them. Is it possible for us to adopt this attitude? Yes! Is it easy? No! But it needs turning away from our pride and seeing how the LORD treats us. He treats us with patience, grace, mercy, kindness and love. We can treat others as such.
When David realized that God had him exposed (like he did not know God knew), he quickly pleaded for mercy and forgiveness. The Jews did not, and they walked away from Jesus, who pointed out that their sins were just as ugly as that of the prostitute they were about to stone. And that is what many of us do. Why the sudden change in David? Because he finally saw himself as vile as the rich man. That is the kind of paradigm shift we need to have. Call out sin others after you have appreciated calling it out in your life! Are you the man?