When My Actions Hurt Others
1Chr. 21:28 At that time, when David saw that the LORD had answered him at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he made his sacrifices there. 29 For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were at that time in the high place at Gibeon; 30 but David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the LORD.
David had disobeyed God by ordering a census of the people. The consequences of David’s decision reached far beyond David himself and to all of his people. The angel stood over Jerusalem, sword drawn as all the people would have to suffer as a result of David’s unwise decision. Recognizing his failure he began to plead before God, asking forgiveness for his actions, and the salvation of his people. It would have been customary to go to Gibeon to make a sacrifice before God, but David felt he needed to stay at the threshing floor of Ornan, and not leave the city of Jerusalem without an intercessor. He recognize that he had brought about the calamity, his actions were hurting the innocent, and so he did all he could to save them.
Our actions and our inactions have consequences, and often those reach far beyond ourselves. We may want to stand firm in our personal “rights” but that doesn’t mean that others may not get hurt. David could have argued with God that he had the “right” as leader of the Israelites to order a census. It was certainly within his rights as a king — other nations did it all the time. However, God had given him instructions that went beyond the rights of human kingdoms. David was to be obedient to God — a higher authority. In his disobedience to God his entire kingdom would suffer the consequences.
At this point David had two choices. He could have argued his “right” before God and stood in stubborn pride and arrogance and watched his people die, or he could admit his sin and work toward the deliverance of them all. David was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of his people.
David recognized what he had done and was willing to take action for the greater good. He admitted what he had done and repented of his sin both before God and his people. David gathered together his leadership team, they put on sackcloth and bowed low before God. He followed God’s instructions and went and purchased the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
David insisted on paying full price for the site, realizing that he needed to pay in full for what he had done. There can be no short-cuts to restitution. We can’t let someone else pay for the damage that we have done, but we must be willing to pay the full price, taking full responsibility for our actions.
David remained at the threshing floor, interceding for Jerusalem. As king he would have liked to have gone to the high place of Gibeon, but he humbled himself, giving up the high place and staying in prayer for his people. When my actions hurt others, I don’t get to just pick things up and go along my way as if nothing ever happened. I may never again return to the “high” places, but if I love others, I’m willing to lay down my life for them. I’m willing to give up everything for them, including my position, reputation and personal comforts. This is true love for God and neighbor.
When my actions hurt others, even if I am within my rights, I need to evaluate my response in light of my relationship to God. It’s humbling. It’s not the way of the world.
Lord, please help me to see my actions in light of obedience to you. May I be willing to repent and make restitution when I have hurt others. Amen.