Get up and go on

Do you sometimes whip yourself over sins and mistakes?

I do.

But I’m learning this leads nowhere. Obsessing over these wrong actions won’t make me a better person. And it won’t please God.

Of course, I’m called to confess my sins to God (1 John 1:9).. The tag end of that verse says he forgives my sins and cleanses me – not that he holds them against me.

I think David, King of Israel, had the right approach.

He sinned big time – having sex with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and then arranging Uriah’s death. Then, the prophet Nathan confronted him with his sin and David confessed and repented before God (2 Samuel 12).

Nathan told David that God forgave him and he wouldn’t die for what he had done. But Bathsheba had given birth to David’s child – that child would die, said the prophet.

The child fell ill and David pleaded with God for his son. He went without food and slept on the ground at night.

But the child died. When told of the baby’s death, David rose, washed, and ate. The people around him were astounded. Why would he make such a fuss before the baby’s death and then go back to normal life immediately after he died?

David said: “I fasted and wept while the child was alive, for I said, ‘Perhaps the Lord will be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But why should I fast when he is dead? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him one day, but he cannot return to me.”

In some ways, it sounds heartless. But that’s not the way I see it. David comforted Bathsheba after the child died. He felt the loss. But he did not wallow in it. He got on with life.

I think God approved of David’s way of looking at things.

When the prophet Elijah fled in fear from Queen Jezebel, God met him in a cave in Sinai and asked him what he was doing. Elijah was feeling sorry for himself, moaning that he was alone in standing up for God. Basically, he was saying all his work was useless – the opposition was too tough.

But God told him to get up and get going. He provided him with help – his ultimate successor Elisha. And he gave him assignments to carry out.

The apostle Paul puts it well in Philippians 3. He says he forgets what is behind – good and bad – and “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.

God has work for us. He wants us to get on with it.

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