Beware wanting to do something good for God! King David had a magnificent idea to build God a glorious Temple for his presence and praise. David was grateful to God for so much. David had achieved much in becoming king of the southern and northern kingdoms of Israel. Now, caught up in euphoria, power, and gripped by a bright idea, he gets a green light of encouragement from his pastor and advisor Nathan to go ahead and build God’s Temple.
Fortunately, Nathan has a night to chew David’s idea over and allow God to show him that, while David’s idea is a good one, allowing David to build God’s new Temple to house the Ark of The Covenant will let David get beyond himself, thinking he can do God a favour. It’s the ‘entitled’ danger we can all fall into, when given a title: Officer, Nurse, Doctor, Councillor, MP, MSP, First / Prime Minister, President, Parent, Friend, Reverend, Manager, Convener, Captain, etc. However well qualified we might be for our role, beware letting the authority and power it gives go to our head!
One danger of being minister in one charge (Fullarton Parish) for 33 years is that it is all too easy to get your own way. Fortunately, we have some elders and leaders well able to challenge my bright ideas, which come thick & fast at times, the most vocal of which is my dear wife. Dorothy is good at keeping me humble!
One of our aspirations at Fullarton has been to create purpose-built Youth and Sports Space to enhance our connection with, and outreach to, people, parish, and town. We’ve spent significant money on research and design but halted progress towards this particular dream due to Presbytery plans to unite all the Church of Scotland parishes in Irvine. If we were holding tightly to this dream and trying to force it such scuppering would be very frustrating. But humbling and sending us back to the drawing board is a good thing. Perhaps our dream of youth & sports space will be built somewhere else in Irvine or that a new dream replaces it. What I do know is that God is bringing us to our knees to let God be God and the one ‘who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine’.
Nathan’s courageous straight talking stuns David. Stopping David from his deep-seated desire to ‘build for God’ was like halting a herd of wild horses in full flow, but David does the right thing, he went in and ‘sat before the Lord’ (2 Samuel 7:18). David, in hyperactive superman mode, is stilled before God and sits down to digest and process God’s revealed word and will. Perhaps this was the most important thing David ever did? Rather than plough headlong into proving how great he was, he sat down to listen and submit to God.
Humbly sitting, kneeling, or prostrating ourselves before God needs to be regular in our routines, lest we get above our station, believe our pride, and allow Satan to deceive and divert us from God’s gracious activity into ‘doing good’ but not ‘God’s Best’. As Eugene Peterson puts it, “It’s our seemingly good intentions that get us in the most grievous trouble. When we do wrong, we usually find out soon enough and repent and get back on track. But when we do good, become pleased with ourselves, and receive applause and commendation from our leaders and friends, we easily lose our sense of dependence on God and our ever increasingly desperate need for God’s sovereign grace. The last state of that person, as Jesus so solemnly warned, is worse than the first (Luke 11:26).”
So, when you want to do something good for God, remember ‘Just sit doon!’