But what does it really mean to be good?
The Random House dictionary has 41 different definitions for the word… and that’s just the adjectives.
Take our cookies for example. If we had taken a bite of the cookie and they were old or dried out… they wouldn’t be so good. They wouldn’t have been all that they were made up to be.
I keep using the word benefit… and that is because there are lots of things that fulfill their purpose that we would never call good. For example – those cookies might taste good – but if you never got to eat them… if I never shared them… they would have been good to no one but myself.
Or, think about what makes a good chef’s knife. It is sharp, it cuts the way that it is designed to, and we can use it to prepare food and to eventually be fed. We benefit from the design and use of a good chef’s knife.
In the hands of someone who is angry or revengeful – the very thing that we called good only a moment ago can turn into a weapon. It still has the same qualities that fulfilled its purpose… only it is being used for ill rather than good.
So to be good… we must fulfill the expectations of ourselves and others and benefit others as we do so.
And it is to such people as these that the prophets were sent. Prophets like Samuel, Elijah and Elish, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habbakuk, Hosea… and our prophet for this morning: Nathan.
Nathan’s job here is simple… bring God’s judgment upon David for these acts. But what I want to look at this morning is how the goodness of Nathan shines through.
First, Nathan helped the truth to come to light… Ephesians 5 says that God’s children live as children of light… “for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.” He didn’t shy away from the fact that David had done wrong, but made sure that David knew that he had done wrong.
Second, Nathan knew what David had done wrong… He knew that he was unrighteous
The right thing to do as soon as David confessed would be to have David stoned… but goodness goes beyond simple righteousness… goodness goes beyond simply pointing out the wrongs in others.
He not only told the truth, but nowhere do we have any indication that Nathan is prepared to follow the letter of the law. He instead waits for a response from David.
As people of faith, too often we are quick to bring judgment upon others and stand waiting with signs of condemnation. We are good at bringing unrighteousness to light. We are terrible about leading people into repentance.
When our righteousness is only about what is right and what is wrong, it becomes a weapon of judgment.
But by telling David a story, Nathan does just that. He helps him to see what is wrong, and in doing so, he also provides an opportunity for David to confess, to repent, and to live a different life.
Third, Nathan blessed David because of his repentance
He didn’t just bring the right thing to light, but he went the extra mile. Nathan did what was needed to set David back on the right path… what was needed to build him up and to help him live a better and more faithful life.
There would be consequences from his actions… and yet there was also room for God’s grace and mercy to flow back into David’s life and Nathan not only acknowledged that, but helped to point it out.
As Christians, we believe that all have fallen short of the glory of God. All of us are in need of grace and repentance.
I believe the basis of righteousness is fact that God sets us right. God forgives us. God leads us on the right paths. It has nothing to do with how many answers we get right or how many good deeds we do. It has everything to do with God.
But you see, that grace and that mercy that flows into our lives is not ours alone. It is meant to be shared.
If we fail to extend grace and mercy and love and forgiveness to our brothers and sisters, than we merely turn the precious gift we have been given into a weapon of destruction.