Who’s Your Nathan?
By Nelson Spear
Many of us are familiar with the Bible character David. What is so great about his story is that we can still learn lessons from his life and apply them to our everyday lives.
Background of David:
Yes, the David of “David and Goliath” fame had later life lessons that we can learn from. Many of us are also familiar with the rest of the story of David on how he became king of Israel and had an affair with Bathsheba, who was married to a soldier in King David’s army. During the affair, King David got her pregnant and to hide his sin, he had the husband of Bathsheba murdered. Although many were aware of the sin in King David’s life, no one broached the subject with the king until Nathan the prophet confronted the king with a story that exposed the sin. After being confronted, King David admitted and repented of his sins.
Whether you believe the actual events of the Old Testament is not relevant. What is relevant are the lessons from this 3,000-year-old story that can still be applied to all of us today. Reflecting on the madness that is currently going on around us, I realized if we allow someone to speak constructively into our lives on a regular basis, we can avoid bigger problems for ourselves and our community.
Words and actions matter:
I have previously addressed the circumstances of the comedienne who posted a picture of herself that included a likeness of President Trump. I stated then that “just because you can [say something or do something], does not mean that you should [say something or do something].” The same goes for King David. He believed that he had the power and ability to claim anything he wanted as King; however, he did not. There was no one close enough to him to tell him before his sin with Bathsheba, “No, don’t do that!” It appears to be the same situation in the case of that same comedienne. For years, while she bashed everyone in her stand-up routine, her rhetoric towards the right became more and more hostile culminating with her famous 2007 comments directed to Jesus. Nobody close to her told her to stop. It can be fairly surmised that those around her even told her, “Don’t Stop!” So, are we really surprised when the same comedienne posted a photo of herself depicting a crime of violence towards the President? I know that I am not. Even members of Congress are not immune from the foot-in-mouth disease. For example, Congressman Grayson, claimed that the Republicans health care plan wants you to “die quickly” if you get sick.
The harsh rhetoric from both sides has increased in the last decade. It is readily apparent that violent rhetoric has increased since the 2016 General Election. The rhetoric of violence escalated on June 14, 2017 when a left-wing activist attempted to assassinate Congressman Scalise and other Republican leaders. Even after the shooting of these innocent people, there were those on the left that still fully engaged in the war of hostile rhetoric. One person tweeted (and then deleted) “Too bad he’s not hurt worse. He and GOP trying to hurt, kill, strip health care from millions of us presently. It’s unfortunately deserved.” Still today, even after the assassination attempt, a play is running that intentionally portrays a key figure as President Trump being assassinated. What makes this more remarkable is the fact that the play is being financially funded by MSM (mainstream media). I think that it is interesting to note that on the right, there are positive indications that things are changing. Even rightwing, shock-rocker Ted Nugent, while not compromising his political positions, has agreed to lay down his arms of rhetoric to curb the tone. Interestingly, the Nuge credits his wife, his Nathan, with helping him to make this transition.
Going back to my title and theme of this article, I ask, “Who is your Nathan?” Nathan spoke to King David about his sin after King David had taken Bathsheba and had her husband killed. Had anyone been able to counsel King David before he had set eyes on Bathsheba, he would have been able to avoid a lot of terrible events in his life.
Applying the Nathan intervention method, I ask, “Do you have the guts to listen to someone who will kick you in the shins for doing wrong?” I also ask, “Have you surrounded yourself with people that will tell you like it is, or have you surrounded yourself with people that are a jaknikker (yes man)?” King David’s other son by Bathsheba, Solomon, seemed to learn some good lessons from his father. In Proverbs 27:6, Solomon tells us that “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” To me, this means your true friends will give you the hard truth, but others, especially those trying to curry favor with you, will only praise you. Later in that same chapter of Proverbs, Solomon tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friends.” Solomon also wrote, that in the abundance of counselors, there is victory. To me, these verses clearly mean that you need to surround yourself with Nathans.
In my case, I have several Nathans who not only encourage me, but they also are honest with me enough to let me know I am on a path that may cross a line or that I actually crossed the line when I said or did something that is outside the boundaries. My Nathans start first with my wife – I trust her more than any other person to give it to me straight. My Nathans also include my brother. And, I belong to a couple of accountability groups where we act as Nathans for each other. On some matters, I even listen to people on the far left who are morally principled and intellectually honest about themselves and life in general.
Most agree that the escalation of violent political rhetoric has led to an escalation of actual violence. The violent political rhetoric must stop. No one is perfect. A lot of us have contributed to the rhetoric to one degree or another. Let us adopt a common goal of returning to a time where there was still spirited debate that encouraged strong thoughts yet still respected the views of others. We must be at a place where we can debate and then when the debate is over, we can all shake hands.
Adding a few Nathans to our lives will be a good start to getting to that goal. Who will be your Nathans?