I must say, that even in God’s justice, He displays His love. In love, God warns us against destructive decisions and activities. He seeks to protect us from our fallen nature, which is bent toward the things that can destroy us.
Certain activities carry a certain, built-in judgment. If you do certain ungodly things, then as a natural consequence you are going to suffer certain nasty repercussions. Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap (Galatians 6:7). Particular activities and actions automatically bring corresponding consequences.
As you study God’s laws as given in Scripture, you see that, in essence, God prohibited destructive choices—choices that are destructive to your health, to your relationship with your spouse, with your family, with your friends, and destructive to your relationship with God. He outlawed those things that naturally destroy you. On the other hand, He mandated the things that build you up, that make you a better person and enhance your relationships with others and magnify your relationship with God.
So you cannot fault the law of God. “The law of the Lord is perfect,” the Bible says, “converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). You cannot fault God’s law—and yet we often rebel against it. My flesh wants to do things that God’s law prohibits, the things that by their very nature destroy me. And if I do those things despite what God tells me, I’m going to suffer the inevitable consequences of my rebellion. And so God plainly warns us of the consequences of violating His law—and He does so because He is gracious, not because He isn’t.
I can often do destructive things—and yet God remains compassionate. He sees me in my turmoil. He sees me in my sorrow. He sees me in my grief. He wants me to avoid the things that would destroy me—and He even helps me to avoid them—but I can rebel. I choose to do them anyhow. And so I suffer the consequences.
Even then, however, God is gracious and merciful and full of compassion: “Oh, you poor little child; why would you do that?” He seems to say. And then He reaches down, lifts me out of the pit and sets me on my feet again.
Have you ever had to sit back and watch one of your children make a serious mistake? I think that has to be one of the most frustrating things parents ever have to face. When young adults reach an age when they start making their own decisions, and you see them about to make a choice that you know is wrong and destructive, your heart breaks. You know their decision is going to bring them pain and hurt. And so you do your best to keep them from it. You do everything you possibly can, within the limits of the law. You want to prevent them from injuring or destroying themselves. You want to spare them the terrible pain and sorrow you know is coming. You want so desperately to shield them from all of that—but sometimes they get headstrong. They get stubborn and rebellious and they act against your good judgment, against your pleas, against your advice and counsel and even threats. They go ahead with their plan and there’s not one thing you can do to stop them.
You just have to stand by and wait for the awful cycle to complete itself. When their plans blow up and you find them in horrible pain—the very agony you wanted to spare them from—you step in to pick up the pieces and to help them put their life back together. If only they had listened, they could have avoided all of that!
- excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith