Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If any of the people—men or women—betray the Lord by doing wrong to another person, they are guilty. (Numbers 5:5)
Relate: Once upon a time there was this long distance telephone company called MCI. Eventually, it went belly up as a result of its stupid decisions, corrupt corporate heads, and the evolving market that made long distance charges a thing of the past. Just before it did, I briefly took a job working for the company. By this point the writing was on the wall. MCI knew that it had to adapt to survive and MCI’s adaptation form of choice was to try and get into the local phone market. My job was to cold call people and try to get them to switch their local carrier over to us. What we weren’t telling the customer, and in fact I wasn’t even told myself but had to find out through other means, was that all we were doing was buying that local service and then repackaging it for the customer.
Obviously, the only way to get the customer to do this was for MCI to end up charging the poor dupe an awful lot more for the exact same service they already had. When I realized this was what I was doing, I overnight went from being one of the best to one of the worst salesmen on the floor. There was a joke among us employees that MCI stood for “many corrupt individuals” and I realized that this was true. Although I didn’t put it in these terms at that time, every time I knowingly cheated someone into buying that plan, I was also sinning against God. Fortunately, it did not take me long to realize that no matter how good my paycheck was, it wasn’t worth it.
React: David had sinned. No, it wasn’t just a little white lie or taking home some office supplies to knock a couple bucks off the household budget. David had committed adultery. Then, when the cover up didn’t really work, he had the cuckolded husband murdered. The only appropriate words for crime and cover up at that level are ones like, “heinous”, “atrocity”, or just plain “evil”. What comes as a surprise are the words he says when he begins to repent of his crime. He says to God, “Against You and You only have I sinned.”
What? He didn’t sin against Uriah and his own family by sleeping around? He didn’t sin against Bathsheba by having her husband killed? He didn’t sin against his army when others were also killed in the attempt to off Uriah? He didn’t sin against his country by being such a horrible head of state? No. All of that is simply the outflow of the reality that against God, and God only he had sinned. All of your sin, all of my sin, is first and only against God. However, every time I sin against God, whether I realize the impact or not, does harm to others. Every time I cheat others, I am sinning against God. Every time I sin against God, I am cheating others.