Grace shows up in funny places. Sometimes it comes in one of those moments when you can’t help but tell other people how good God is. Like when you get a big raise at work. But sometimes grace comes in a different package.
Like when you have an affair and get some guy’s wife pregnant.
If you read the account of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, you can’t help but notice all of the corruption and heartache. But there’s grace there too.
And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” 2 Samuel 11:5 (ESV)
A pregnancy was the last thing that David wanted. It meant that his fling with Bathsheba would eventually be exposed. It meant that he couldn’t carry on with life as if nothing of consequence had ever happened with the woman down the street. So, seeing as how Planned Parenthood wasn’t around back in those days, David did the next best thing. He tried to make it look like the woman’s husband got her pregnant and then killed him when he wouldn’t cooperate.
Now that’s a cover-up.
Only it didn’t work so well.
That’s where we see grace showing up again in an unexpected way.
And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD. 2 Samuel 11:27 (ESV)
God, in his grace, forgives us of our sins. But we are stubborn. Many times we do not think that we need forgiveness. Like David, we settle for a good cover-up scheme rather than genuine repentance. But God loves his people too much to ignore their sin. Just as his grace forgives us of our sins, his grace often exposes our sins, reminding us of the need for forgiveness in the first place.
In David’s life, this exposing grace came in a visit from a man named Nathan.
Nathan was a prophet. It was his job to say hard things but it probably didn’t get much harder than having to call out the king for a hidden sin. Such a thing could mean death for a man in Nathan’s position. Fear didn’t stop him from delivering his message. But he did do it in an unusual way.
He told a heart-breaking story about a rich man who stole, butchered and ate a poor man’s lamb (2 Samuel 12:1-4). David was furious. “Find this man and make him pay!”
Nathan’s response is unforgettable.
And it’s also saturated with grace.
“You are the man!”
I’m sure that David’s breath was taken away. Nathan went on to detail both the weight and the consequences of David’s sin. But there was grace as well.
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 2 Samuel 12:13 (ESV)
David would not get the punishment that he deserved. That is grace. But the highway on which that grace was delivered was David’s broken heart. And that broken heart would have never happened if God didn’t expose David’s sin through an unwanted pregnancy and an unafraid prophet.
You need a Nathan in your life. You need someone who loves you and God enough to lovingly call you out when you are wrong. Yes Men are not agents of grace. They are false prophets who will lead you to your doom. Grace isn’t always going to leave you feeling good. But, like any good medicine, it will make you better.
You need grace. You need it to keep you from hiding your sin. You need it to keep you from trying to justify your sin all on your own. You need it to point you to the goodness of the God you sin against.
God’s grace is seen in the forgiveness of sins. It’s seen in the freedom from sin. But it is also seen in his confrontation of your sin. You can experience the grace of God while singing at church or playing with your grandkids on the beach. And you can know it just as well when you are confronted with one of your sins that you thought was hidden. But you can never really know grace while you continue to cover your sins.
Maybe that’s why so many Christians like to sing Amazing Grace.
Only someone who has come to grips with his amazing sin can truly and honestly sing about God’s Amazing Grace.