But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD, and the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.”
Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” – 2 Samuel 12:1-6 (NRSV)
Confronting someone in their sin can be a difficult thing. To just come out and call someone an adulterer or a liar or a cheat can create a combative atmosphere. If you try to rationalize why they might have transgressed, you run the risk of them not owning the fullness of their disobedience. There is also the problem of our plank getting in the way of seeing their speck. However, this is something that cannot be avoided as a parent.
We are the Nathan’s for our children. We not only bring their sin to light, but we have a responsibility to help them understand the truth that what they did was wrong. Nathan walks David through a scenario that leads him to the truth of his sin and then opens his eyes to his responsibility for his sin. This is the hard, but fruitful way of confronting sin.
It is too easy to become spiritual bullies to our children, using Scripture as a club instead of allowing Scripture to mold and shape us into a tool for our children’s benefit. We can become manipulative, trying to get what we want from our children, rather than seeking what God wants for our children. For some of us, confrontation is terrifying and we would rather ignore the situation or try to get around it somehow. We don’t like getting angry and may even have been taught that anger is a sin, but this gives our children license where they shouldn’t. Anger, however, is not the problem.
If we love our children and desire righteousness for them, anger is just another tool in our hands and is tempered by mercy and humility. If we love ourselves more than our children and desire recognition from man for what we have “produced,” anger uses us to damage and destroy, fueled by pride and selfishness. Nathan’s anger was rooted in his love for God and David. David’s anger was rooted in pride. It is easy to see which one God used for good.
Parenting will call us to difficult confrontations with our children, asking us to take hold of anger with loving hands. God has placed us in a position of incredible responsibility and asks us to be a “Nathan” to our children, speaking the truth about sin without apology or ulterior motive. It is not easy, but our children will be better for it and God will be pleased.
Lord, help me be a tool in your hands to combat the sin in my children’s lives. Search me for any sinfulness and pride and humble me for this task. May I be a voice calling my children to righteousness and obedience for Your sake. Amen.