THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2016
TRUE MERCY - 3
2 Samuel 12:1-17
We continue trying to understand the mercy of God, which is
so different even from mercy as understood and practiced by
some in our Church.
had sinned grievously. Nathan the prophet confronted him with
his sin, using a parable about a rich and powerful man taking
advantage of and abusing a poor man (2 Sm 12:1-4). On hearing
it, “David grew very angry with that man and said to
Nathan: ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this
deserves death!’” (2 Sm 12:5). He recognized the
great evil done. Now was he shocked when Nathan said, “You
are the man!” (2 Sm 12:7)!
this is the situation with many sinners in the world, particularly
in the area of human sexuality. There are those who have sex
outside of marriage, couples who live in without sacramental
marriage, people in homosexual relationships, and those in
same-sex “marriage.” Do they recognize their grave
sin? Most do not. Because they are told by society that what
they are doing is all right, and the Church does not actively
correct them, preferring to be politically correct. How can
sodomy or any kind of sexual perversion be all right?
of course thought what he did, in being adulterous with Bathsheba
and murdering Uriah, was all right. But in hearing what the
rich man did to the poor man, he was livid with rage. This
is the first lesson: people will remain in their
serious sin (some of them because they truly do not realize
that they are in sin) unless there are those who will speak
prophetically to them about their sin, so they can be led
to repentance. To not speak of sin and be politically correct
is false mercy. To love the sinner and truly care
for them by speaking of their sin is true mercy.
Second lesson: we might be prayerful, serving in
our Church, and feeling close to God, but if we sin grievously
and do not mend our ways, then we in effect have turned against
God. “Why have you despised the Lord and done what is
evil in his sight?” (2 Sm 12:9a). Consider just a few
examples among many:
The Eucharistic minister, holding and dispensing the very
body of Christ, who remains a gambler, alcoholic or wife-beater.
leader in a Christian community who gossips and maligns
other leaders, thereby causing dissension and disunity,
thereby adversely affecting God’s work.
head of a parish ministry who is an adulterer.
cleric who is into active homosexuality.
social worker that is addicted to Internet pornography.
Now if pastors, cleric or lay, do not speak out, lovingly
but forcefully, how can sinners ever be truly led to repentance?
Not to speak out in such cases, if one has the responsibility
or the opportunity, is false mercy; to speak out
is true mercy.
Third lesson: there will be hell to pay (pun intended)
if we die in our grievous sin. David, though he was forgiven,
was subject not just to the love and mercy of God but also
to the justice of God. He would be afflicted by the sword
and by family scandal (2 Sm 12:10-12). “Thus says the
Lord: I will bring evil upon you out of your own house.”
(2 Sm 12:11a). Grievous sin has grievous consequences –
shattered lives, broken homes, juvenile delinquents, lifelong
resentment, STDs, HIV/AIDS, disunity, despair, suicide, and
so on. And if there is no repentance, the ultimate disastrous
consequence is eternity in the fires of hell.
there is repentance, there will still be consequences. For
example, if one gets HIV/AIDS due to a profligate sexual lifestyle,
even when one is converted, that remains. If a marriage has
irreparably broken down, or a child is deeply resentful of
a father who deserts the family, that remains for a long time,
perhaps even a whole lifetime. If the abandoned son turns
to drugs and crime and is gunned down in the street and killed,
there is no more restoration that can happen. Nathan told
David even as David repented, “but since you have utterly
spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you will
surely die.” (2 Sm 12:14).
for worse not to happen, one needs to repent. What could be
worse than the examples above? Well, eternity in hell. So
here is the good news: no matter how grievous our sin is,
we can look to the mercy of God. David repented, “I
have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Sm 12:13a). Nathan
said, “For his part, the Lord has removed your sin.
You shall not die” (2 Sm 12:13b). The Lord had removed
your sin! You are now pure, restored to the Father! You shall
not die! You shall, in fact, look to eternity in heaven! Hell
is the result of false mercy; heaven is the result
of true mercy.
God is indeed merciful. But some have turned the mercy of
God into false mercy. True mercy is an incentive to repentance,
but some do not want to speak of sin and thus do not lead
sinners to repentance. What are the effects, and manifestations,
of true repentance?
there is an ardent desire not just to turn away from sin,
but to enter into a life of purity and holiness. “A
clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast
spirit.” (Ps 51:12).
there is a deliberate move to avoid one’s former worldly
ways, with their attendant temptations, and enter into a vibrant
life in the Spirit. “Do not drive me from before your
face, nor take from me your holy spirit.” (Ps 51:13).
there is great appreciation for being restored and being assured
of ultimate salvation. “Restore to me the gladness of
your salvation; uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Ps
and very importantly, there is a desire to help others out
of their sin, and to tell them about Jesus, so that they would
be led to life-giving repentance. “I will teach the
wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.” (Ps
there is growing assurance that one is entering into God’s
life and thus God’s embrace and thus God’s protection.
“Rescue me from violent bloodshed, God, my saving God”
one begins to truly live Christ, manifesting the joy of the
Spirit and working for God’s justice in the world. “And
my tongue will sing joyfully of your justice.” (Ps 51:16b).
one will live only for the glory of God, in both word and
deed. “Lord, you will open my lips; and my mouth will
proclaim your praise.” (Ps 51:17).
The mercy of God is given, and is a given. What makes a great
deal of difference, the very difference between heaven and
hell, is whether such mercy is true or false.