A Heart Like His

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. –Philippians 2:4 NIV

For two weeks I was able to read without a magnifying glass. Then a tiny speck appeared on the edge of the right lens of my new eyeglasses. At first I thought it was an ink spot. But cleaning the lens didn’t remove it.

Maybe it won’t get any bigger. I dreaded the thought of having to send them back. It had been wonderful, being able to see my computer screen and the printed page clearly. But a few days later, the speck expanded and resembled a chip on a windshield. In addition, a minuscule crack had appeared in the left lens.

So back to the eye doctor I went. And learned that our insurance requires them to use the company that manufactured the lenses.

“They do shoddy work,” the doctor’s assistant told me. The lenses were made too big, and the pressure of being forced into frames too small had caused them to crack.

“How long will it take—another seven to ten days?” I asked. “Maybe since this is a return due to their mistake, they’ll speed up the process?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t matter. They don’t care. They have so much business that one customer doesn’t make a difference.”

Putting the customer first, quality products, and quality service have taken a backseat to big customers with deep pockets. Corporate hearts have hardened toward the little guy.

But before I call the kettle black, perhaps I should look into my own heart. Where have I become calloused?

Have I attended to the physical needs of others or do I just wish them well (James 2:14–16)? Do I give generously (Ephesians 4:28) or am I tightfisted with my money, possessions, time, and talents (2 Corinthians 9:6–11)?

I think of Haiti, people in Third World countries, Russian children who live in sewers, and I feel overwhelmed by the quantity and depth of the needs. I think of the many organizations that respond to these needs, and I allow confusion over which organization to donate to hold me back from giving as I should.

God wants us to have a heart like His. He commanded us to show mercy and compassion to one another (Zechariah 7:9), to act justly and to love mercy (Micah 6:8), to clothe ourselves with tenderhearted mercy (Colossians 3:12). “Having no interest in or concern for other people, their needs, and activities”* is indifference, another of the subtle sins God has brought to my attention.

When I was a little girl, I used to lie in bed at night, dreaming of going to Third World countries to help others. My desire to make a difference was so strong, I couldn’t get to sleep. My heart would break when I’d see the aged, the blind, the crippled, the infirm, the helpless. I wanted to do something. I even looked into the Peace Corps when I was in college.

But somewhere along the way, I lost that passion to help others. My life, by my own choices, took a different direction. Then God used my flippant response to a local tragedy to show me how far I’ve gotten from that tenderhearted young girl and the places in my heart that have become hard, calloused. I’m too often like the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, who either didn’t want to take the time or get their hands dirty helping someone else.

Just like the speck in my eyeglass lens grew bigger and bigger until I had to send them back to the maker, so the sin of indifference has grown to a defect in my character.

In order to correct the flaw and for my heart to become a heart like God’s—tender, compassionate, loving—it, too, must be sent back to the Maker, who promised, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV).

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10 RSV). Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 10:30–37 and Isaiah 58:6–9.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

*Definition from Children’s Ministry Resource Bible ©1993, Child Evangelism Fellowship Inc.

Bathing Beauty or Bimbo?

. . . David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife . . . – Matthew 1:6 NIV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8–9

 Although she’s one of five women having the honor of being in mentioned in Jesus’ genealogy, unlike the other four, Bathsheba’s name is not given. Matthew simply refers her to as “Uriah’s wife.”

In my humble opinion, she’s worse than Tamar and Rahab. She can’t even hold a candle to Ruth, whose story is like a polished diamond in the coal mines of the Old Testament. They had what Bathsheba lacked— brains, guts and heart.

When we first encounter Bathsheba, she’s taking a bath—in an uncovered courtyard of a house in the middle of Jerusalem, where anyone standing on a nearby rooftop (they were flat in those days) could see her. Perhaps that was her intention. You see, the courtyard where she was bathing was in plain sight of the rooftop of King David’s residence. Scripture tells us Bathsheba was very beautiful.

Now King David already had seven wives, including Saul’s daughter Michal, the wife of his youth, and Abigail, the spunky, quick-witted widow of Nabal. (Read this great story in 1 Samuel 25.) Nevertheless, he summons Bathsheba, knowing both her husband and her father were members of the elite group of warriors known as “David’s mighty men.”

She could have said no. She knew the commandments as well as King David did. But she didn’t.

You know the story. David arranges for Uriah’s death in battle. As soon the seven days of mourning for her husband are up, Bathsheba marries King David. The baby conceived in adultery dies soon after birth.

Fast forward to the end of David’s life. As he lay on his deathbed, his son Adonijah plans to usurp the throne. David’s chief prophet approaches Bathsheba with a plan.

“Go in to King David and say to him, ‘Didn’t you promise me my son Solomon would be king after you? Then why has Adonijah become king?’”

She does as told. Solomon is crowned that very day (1 Kings 1:11–39). Okay, so she secured the throne for the king God had planned. But it wasn’t her idea.

The last time we see Bathsheba, she’s the queen mother. The relentless Adonijah uses her in a plot to wrest the throne from Solomon.

“Ask him to do one thing for me,” Adonijah tells her. “Give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.”

“Very well,” she says, clueless what this meant.

She should have known. Abishag was a part of David’s harem, and possession of the previous king’s harem signified the right of succession to the throne. By marrying Abishag, Adonijah would strengthen his claim to the throne. Good thing Solomon saw through the scheme.

Bathsheba possessed great physical beauty but little else. If it had been up to me, I would have chosen Abigail, who had more character, intelligence and spunk, for the honor of being an ancestor of the Messiah.

But God didn’t ask for my opinion.

Bathsheba bore David four sons, which included Solomon and Nathan. The wise and wealthy Solomon became one of Jesus’ ancestors through Joseph, his earthly father. Nathan’s line produced Mary, Jesus’ mother (Luke 3:31).

Bathsheba—bathing beauty or bimbo? Does it even matter?

What matters is that God chose her, not because of anything she did, but because of His own purpose and grace (2 Timothy 1:9) to fulfill a promise He made to David: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).

This promise was fulfilled with Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection.

Bathsheba’s story is one of mercy and grace. Mercy, because she didn’t get the punishment she deserved for her adultery and her part in David’s conspiracy to murder her husband. Grace, because she received something she didn’t deserve—a place in the bloodline of Jesus Christ.

Mercy and grace—isn’t that what God’s all about?

“Thy steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, thy faithfulness to the clouds”( Psalm 36:5). Remind me of this, dear God, when I question Your love for and Your faithfulness to me. Amen.

Read and reflect on 2 Samuel 11:1–12:24.

 From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.