Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, 'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.' (Acts 13:21-22 ESV)
"The Dash" by Linda Ellis
I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth and now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own, the cars, the house, the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left that still can be rearranged.
To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash, would you be proud of the things they say about how you lived your dash?
Everyone has a year in which they were born and unless Jesus Christ returns before, we will all have a year in which we will die. What we see described in this poem and what I would like to submit to you today is that what is far more important than the year of your birth or the year of your death is the dash in the middle. It is the years that you spend living that make far more impact and have the greatest potential to gain ground for the Kingdom and bring glory to God.
What are you doing with your dash?
It should come as no surprise that just like Prayer from last week, to have a Christian legacy in your life, it requires devotion. A Christian legacy is rooted in a person’s heart. A heart pointed towards God and that loves God will have a legacy of pursuing and obeying God even when still fighting with sin and enduring the trials of life.
We learn a lot of information about King David in the Bible and specifically in the Psalms that he wrote. His life was a complete open book in a lot of ways for us all to see and learn from. He had many victories and great success and David also had failures and great sin.
Yet throughout all the ups and downs, throughout all the success and failures, David had his heart pointed towards God. David was a man who had a true and deep heart-filled desire to seek God’s will and to do God’s will.
How could this be? How could someone who had such great sin in their life as we will see in a minute also be called a man after God’s own heart and have such a great Christian legacy?
Well, you see, to have a Christian legacy, one does not have to walk in sinless perfection. You see, just like David, we are sinners saved by God’s grace. It takes a lifetime of devotion and continual pursuit of God to see true and lasting sanctification come to one’s life and it is that sanctification, that devotion, that love for God, that effort in walking in righteousness that creates a lasting and strong Christian legacy.
No matter where you find yourself, no matter what you have done and no matter what you are doing as long as you have breath in your body, there is still time to turn it all around and start building a Christian legacy for others to learn from. The key to a godly, Christian legacy is to display and to walk in the same characteristics that David had.
1. A Heart Of True Faith
When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, "Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth." But David said to Saul, "Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God." (1 Samuel 17:31-36 ESV)
David had an unquestioned and unwavering faith in God. It was a faith that helped him conquer many giants in his life and a really large literal giant named Goliath. David believed God even if no one else did. David had faith in the God of Israel even if it would cost him personally. David had an unwavering faith based on who God is and based on what God had done for him. David knew that God would deliver because of who God is and not because of who David was.
2. A Heart Of True Commitment To God's Word
Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
David had a deep love for and commitment to God’s Word. David knew that it was not only important to read and study God’s Word but that one must be committed to it and submitted to it in all their ways. Notice that in Psalm 119:1-5 he states that the one who walks in the law of the LORD is blessed! Also, the one who does not walk in the law of the LORD is not blessed. God also commands that we diligently keep His commandments which means that we need to be intentional, consistent, and have great focus and effort put into our study and obedience of God's Word.
3. A Heart Of True Thanksgiving
David was a man who possessed true thanksgiving towards God. Think back to what Paul says in Colossians 4:2.
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2 ESV)
It says to "Devote" or "Continue steadfastly" in prayer, "keeping alert" or "being watchful" in it with thanksgiving. No matter where David found himself in life, he was thankful. Whether he was on a mountaintop or in a valley, he expressed thanksgiving.
I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
Notice how David makes it clear that there are distinctions and differences between those who trust the LORD and those who do not. It takes one who is humble of heart to be glad in boasting of the LORD's works because the prideful man will be concerned in promoting himself and what he has done. Also, David makes it clear that the LORD saved him out of his troubles. It is the LORD that David looked to for salvation, both of his soul, and his life when surrounded by enemies.
4. A Heart Of True Repentance
David was also a man that had a true heart of repentance. David was a man that fell hard into sin when he took his focus off God.
In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1 ESV)
Notice that David was not where he was supposed to be. He remained when he was supposed to be out in battle. While it is not recorded what the reason for David remaining behind, the fact of the matter is that being somewhere other than where one is supposed to be is a good recipe for sinful behavior. This is why integrity is so vitally important. We need to mean what we say, we need to be where we are supposed to be, and we need to have consistent character.
2 Samuel chapter 11 further records David’s great sin with Bathsheba. It all got set into motion when David was not where he was supposed to be. He was not in obedience and it brought sin and destruction to his life. He ends up sleeping with Bathsheba, he lies and has Uriah murdered and then takes Bathsheba as his wife. She got pregnant by David and they lost their child.
Nathan comes in chapter 12 and rebukes David for his sin and David responds correctly.
David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD."
David correctly realizes his sin and also correctly recognizes that his sin is against the LORD. All sin is against God because He is the only Being in existence that is perfectly holy, righteous, and just. Because of this fact, God is the only Being that has the right to command His creatures, and the right to be offended when sinned against. So, David rightly concludes that he has in fact sinned against the LORD.
Then in Psalm 51, we get David's great prayer of repentance to God because of his sin. Look at what a heart of true repentance looks like.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
David asks for mercy from God. He asks to be washed thoroughly from his sin. David knew that God is a God of mercy and grace and that God responds mercifully to the truly repentant heart which not only calls its sin what it is but also is truly sorrowful over that sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. (Psalm 51:3-4 ESV)
All sin is only against God. David knew this. David also makes it clear that he knew for a fact what his sin was. Many try to hide or run from their sin and in some very prideful ways even attempt to justify or excuse their sin as if it were not sin at all. This is a dangerous game to play considering it is sin against the rightful judge of all things.
When a Christian is in sin and giving in to the desires of the flesh, they know that they have sinned and they will feel the Holy Spirit's conviction. As much as one may attempt to justify, excuse, or ignore their sin, it will always be in their mind's eye and ever before them until they have correctly dealt with it in repentance and confession. Notice also that David makes it clear that God is blameless in His judgment meaning that when God determines that something is sin, there is nothing that can reverse or override His judgment because He is the only true and right judge.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Case me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12 ESV)
David asks God for a clean heart which is free from the stain of his sin. David knew that his sin had affected his walk with the LORD and that it had affected his heart towards God. David also knew that unconfessed sin and unrepentant sin has consequences. So, in asking for forgiveness for his sin, David also seeks to see the joy of salvation returned to him. Note that David says that it is the "joy of your salvation" meaning God's salvation. Suffice it to say that David was obviously a monergist in that he knew and understood that salvation is all of God. The true joy of salvation is walking in obedience to Almighty God who saves us by His abundant grace and mercy.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
God does not desire ritual or tradition. He wants a broken heart of repentance and a heart that loves Him supremely. When our relationship with God is right and we have a clean heart before God then we will as it says in verse 13, "teach transgressors your ways" because only in walking in obedience can we truly serve God and live out the Great Commission.
Our sin destroys so much in our lives and we like David need to always be repentant for our sin and seek to be restored to right standing before God. Now, thanks to the doctrine of justification in regards to salvation, our eternal standing before God is never in question once we are justified. However, our fellowship with God, our effectiveness for God, our ongoing progressive sanctification and more are affected by our sin and a heart that has truly been made white by the blood of Jesus will desire to be repentant of any sin that enters our life.
So, I ask once more in light of everything we have learned from David, what are you doing with your dash? If you desire to have a Christian legacy, what are you doing with your dash? No matter what your age or status, no matter how much sin has been in your life or even how many years you may have wasted not serving God, if you repent of your sin and get right with the Lord you can then start walking in obedience and serving God and begin building a Christian legacy where people can look at your life and say that you had a heart for God.
What are you doing with your dash?