1 Kings 21
I was reading through part of the story of Ahab this morning. The Old Testament is filled with these great, seemingly random, stories that sometimes make sense and sometimes work to confuse you if you're not sure what was going on before (or after, in some cases). As I read though this section of Kings, I was faced with a pretty heavy realization about sin.
In a short synopsis, Ahab wants this vineyard from a guy named Naboth. Naboth can't sell it because of a promise he'd made to the Lord regarding the land so Ahab goes home and whines to his wife. She takes matters into her own hands and works it out so Naboth is stoned (with rocks...). Then Ahab gets his vineyard and all is good - that is, until the Lord talks to Elijah (the profit) and has him relay a message to Ahab basically saying he's gonna regret what he did and will end up among the nonliving very soon. In a twist that I hadn't seen coming, Ahab "humbles himself" before the Lord and the Lord recognizes this and says that He will not "bring evil in his days" though He does explain that He will "bring evil upon his house in his son's days"(v29).
As you read though these sections in scripture most of the time people mess up, aren't repentant, and they 'get what they deserve' in a sense. In this case though, Ahab was truly sorry. It says he was "despondent" and the Lord recognized that and forgave him. I thought that was really amazing and wonderful all at the same time. But, I also noticed that even though Ahab was forgiven, the consequences of his sin would still be brought about. It made me think of David and Bathsheba - David was heartbroken about the sin he committed and he repented before the Lord. God forgave him, but David still had to face the consequences of his sin with the death of his son. In both cases the men were forgiven, but their sin caused others in their life to be adversely affected. In Ahab's case it would be his household after he was gone (dead) and with David it was his son's life that was forfeited.
When we sin, it doesn't just affect us. The Lord has created us to live in community and with family. Our individual sin - though personally committed - affects those around us as well, sometimes even more than we'd think. That shouldn't be a scare tactic for us not to sin, but it should help us to stop and consider our families as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ before we act on a fleshly impulse to sin.
But, when we do sin, this story also shows us that God desires us to be truly repentant and humble in the face of our sin. God saw the fact that Ahab humbled himself before Him and was pleased with that. When sin is committed, the best thing to do is to be honest with the Lord. To remember Christ's sacrificial death on our behalf and to realize that we can be nothing if not humble before our great and loving Father. There may be consequences, but God promises to be with us through those as well. Be encouraged and remember that we have a faithful God!