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You are the man!

Read: 2 Samuel 12:1-13

As you progress through the phases of a virtue education plan, an important moment is when you choose one particular virtue to work on.   Virtue education, in fact, works best when you concentrate on one virtue at a time. But which virtue should you choose?

If you are a Christian, God has a part in your choice, because he is interested in speaking to you about your character.

2 Samuel tells the story about when Nathan confronts David’s sin with Bathsheba.  Notice several things from the story:

  1. God wants to speak to us about our character. We read, in fact, that ‘God sent Nathan to David’ (12:1).  God took the initiative with David and he still can take the initiative with you when it comes to improving your character.
  2. God speaks clearly.  Sometimes we fear that we may not ‘hear the voice of God’.  This story shows us that God does all that is possible to make himself heard. He wants to speak to us even more than we want to hear. In this case, he arouses strong emotions in David through the story of the rich and poor men and their lambs (12:1-6).
  3. God uses people in our lives to make his voice even clearer.   David is thick in his understanding, and even after listening to the story, he still does not understand that it is about him.   It takes Nathan’s explicit words ‘You are the man!” (12:7), before he finally hears the true message.   It is not the same with us?   When we are oblivious to the voice of God, he uses human messengers to make the message even clearer.
  4. There is a ‘then’ moment.  In the little word ‘then’ (12:13) there is a huge moment in David’s life. He was not performing a correct assessment of his life.  God spoke to him.  He heard.  And this is the hope for you, that as you actively ask which virtue to work on in your life, you will hear the voice of God.  Then, you know what to work on and will do so with greater strength.

As you took the virtue test, or while you were reading more about the virtues and their vices, maybe you were struck by  a particular vice that did not appear specifically in your results. Maybe you felt that it an area in which you need to work. That might be the voice of God.   Consider this project as an opportunity to listen to the voice of the Spirit, who can guide you in your choices and give you an inner conviction about which part of your character He would have you work on.

And now for a final point.

Notice that this text describes the lack of virtue as sin.  There is nothing wrong with using the positive terminology of the virtues to encourage growth.  And it is also helpful to use the terminology of the vices to indicate the opposing forces of virtue.  And, of course, in David’s case there were multiple vices, including lust and deceit, and there were several virtues missing, including temperance and justice.  But in his ‘then ‘ moment, David does not exclaim ‘I think I need to work on some virtues in my character’.  He says ‘I have sinned‘. And here we see the ongoing practice of repentance as the way of discipleship.

A prayer: Lord speak to me as I search my heart desiring virtue.  Show me my vices and where you would have me change.  If necessary, send a Nathan to me. I repent of sin in my character which is habitual and natural, and pray that you will grant me the opportunity to change.


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