2 Samuel 12:7–12 (NLT): 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. 8 I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. 9 Why, then, have you despised the word of the Lord and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. 10 From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own.
11 “This is what the Lord says: Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes, and he will go to bed with them in public view. 12 You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”
Ephesians 4:14–16 (NLT): 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Leonard Sweet is a teacher of religion and sociology who spends his days asking people “Where are you going?” and “Where have you been?” He was raised in a Christian home but spent some time as an atheist. He is a popular writer today, particularly among Christians who are looking for something to stretch their own beliefs in order to build a stronger foundation.
I believe that spirituality that exists outside of relationship with God and with others too often ends up as fantasy and imagination. While fantasy is not inherently wrong in itself, that kind of spirituality doesn’t help anyone. Sometimes it is outright deception and harms those who are unaware. Sweet wrote a book called 11: Indispensable Relationships You Can’t Be Without which describes the essential relationships you need in life, regardless of your spirituality. Let’s take an opportunity to look at these in depth.
The first relationship Sweet describes is what he calls “the Editor”. His primary example of an editor is the relationship between King David and the Prophet Nathan, from 2 Samuel. The Prophet had the role of holding the King accountable for his leadership. It was Nathan who confronted King David about his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah.
Everyone needs an editor.
Editors speak the truth in love to us. The prophetic word that is used both for and against leaders is essential, and those prophets need editors themselves. It is easy to lash out against a public figure without bringing the camera into your own leadership and your own life. How many of us would be willing to let our lives be exposed to the public?
Actually, a good editor does just the opposite. They come and share with us, warn us, and encourage us in private, so that we are prepared to face the public. The trouble with Nathan and David was that David did not consult him regularly. Nathan had to intervene after the problem had already happened.
I wrote Jesus Politics with an excellent editor, Mandy Mowers, who was able to point out the good and bad communication, logic, and flow of thought in my first draft. There was a lot of red. Even though we have differing opinions… or rather, because we have different opinions, she was able to cut through my own confusion and bring out the best possible work. I’m grateful for her work.
I’m also grateful for the handful of relationships I keep who think differently than myself and are able to speak the truth in love to me. They are my Nathans. Occasionally I get the opportunity to return the favor to them and speak the truth in love back to them. In those moments, I focus on the goal of seeing the potential that God has given them and shining on that possibility before pulling out the pruning shears. Those who speak the truth, but not in love, are not Nathans. They are not prophets. They may not be from God.
- Who is your Nathan?
- To whom are you a Nathan?
- How do you tackle the challenge of speaking and hearing the truth in love?
I’m not pointing my finger