God is not afraid to say the hard things.


What a sad, sordid chapter. It’s hard to know where to begin. Amnon, eldest son of David, somehow got it in his head that he wanted to have sex with his half-sister, Tamar. Once she became aware of his desire, she begged him to make her his wife instead of just using her and throwing her away like a piece of trash. But he wouldn’t listen. He went ahead with his disgusting plan to rape her, and in the end, he "hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her." (vs 15)

That would have been sad and shocking enough. But then, there was this verse: "When King David heard all this, he was furious." (vs 21) That was it—the entirety of the royal response (or lack thereof). The Bible doesn’t record that David did or even said anything about the matter to Amnon. All it said was he was furious. I couldn’t believe that! I mean, you find out that your son has raped your daughter (and then shunned her—which made it worse), and you can’t even bring yourself to say something?!

Don’t you wonder if it was David’s personal guilt that held him back? Here, he had just exploited his own position and power to use a woman and then have her husband murdered. Perhaps David felt like he didn’t have any room to talk about morals and ethics with his children. What a shame. This is one of the consequences of guilt. It not only damages us and those around us, but it then renders us less willing to confront evil when we see it in other places. After all, what right do we have to point out evil elsewhere when we can’t rid ourselves of it? (At least, that’s our thought process.)

Photo © Unsplash/Andy Tootell

Photo © Unsplash/Andy Tootell

I wonder how things might have been different if David hadn’t been afraid to speak up. And that’s why I don’t think God would have us ignore evil—whether it’s evil we see in ourselves or elsewhere in the world. Instead, I think He wants to teach us how to say the hard things (when it’s appropriate). Because that’s what love does. It says the hard things. That’s what Jesus did.

I’m sometimes amazed by the one-sided brush Jesus gets painted with at times. It’s as if "love" has become synonymous with "nice" in our thinking. So much so that we forget that Jesus was not afraid to say the hard things. He was very "un-nice" at times. But He was never unloving.

I used to watch the television show Intervention. Families, desperate to save a loved one who was on the verge of self-destruction, came together in one last attempt to convince the person to seek treatment. Often, what this entailed was the willingness on the part of the family to give up their own "nice" behavior (which had been enabling their addicted loved one) and instead do the truly loving thing—which seeks the best good of the beloved.

Photo © Unsplash/Click Photography Studio

Photo © Unsplash/Click Photography Studio

Sometimes that meant cutting off money, contact, and even living necessities unless the addict went to treatment. Some of those things sound very, very hard. But more often than not, the families who stuck to their guns and did the loving, un-nice things were the ones who saw their loved ones emerge healthier from treatment.

The bottom-line message of an intervention is this: "I love you so much, there is nothing I won’t do to help you get better; but I also love you so much that there is nothing I will do to help this destructive behavior continue for one more minute." That is the full-bodied picture of love. And it’s the love we see in God through Jesus, who was never afraid to do and say the hard things.