Thursday, June 7, 2012

Truth of Consequences

There are consequences to our actions.  We are forgiven of our sins, we are saved by grace through faith, but we live on earth with the consequence of our sins.  We are often victims of our own irresponsibility.  Many times God does not need to chastise for our sins, he only needs to allow us to suffer its natural consequences.  Today I am going to share a Scripture that is often overlooked.
"And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours."  Luke 15:31 NKJV
This is a part of the parable of the Prodigal Son that is often overlooked.  We rightly focus on the grace and forgiveness of the father who welcomes back his son with open arms and we rightly focus on the father chastening the jealousy of the brother who did not waste his inheritance on sin.  We miss, though, an important message about consequences.  The elder son is promised all that his father has.  Why is that?  Let's take a look back a little earlier in the parable.
And the younger of them said to [his] father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls [to me].' So he divided to them [his] livelihood. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.  Luke 15:12-13 NKJV
You see, the younger son had already received and spent his inheritance.  All that was left belonged to his older brother.  There was nothing left to give the younger son.  The relationship with his father was restored, but he still had to live with the consequences of his actions. 

This should be a lesson to us.  Surely there are times when God will, in His mercy and for His purposes, heal us of our consequences, but that is not the norm.  There are many who come to Christ in prison who remain in prison the rest of their lives, paying the penalty for a crime they committed.  There are many Christian suffering a disease they acquired as a consequence of their sin.  There are many who come to Christ after being drunks or junkies with their bodies still ravaged by the abuse.  There are many living in perpetual debt because of irresponsible spending on prodigal living. 

Even more, many of those who are suffering these consequences committed their offense while Cristian.  I am not writing this to be morbid, but as a warning.  Some like to teach that we can go through life on a mystical carpet ride with our Heavenly father bailing us out of every bit of trouble we get ourselves into.  It is a nice thought, but it is not reality.  Not only is it not reality, but it is not even good for us.  When I used to drink, I never got sick or hungover and I always had a driver.  I never had any consequences for my actions and I had no desire or impetus to stop.  It was not until God started showing me what I was missing out on in life by being drunk every night that I began to have a desire to change.  It was not until I saw the unseen consequences of my actions that I began to change.  Irresponsibility without consequence only breeds even greater irresponsibility and so God has to allow us to suffer the consequences to learn from our errors. 

Sometimes good love is tough love.  It is not always hugs and roses, but sometimes it means watching a friend go through drug withdrawals or a parent letting their son or daughter spend a night in jail before bailing them out.  Sometimes love is hard.  Do not ever think that it does not grieve God to watch us suffer the consequences of our actions.  He hates it and if you read through the Old Testament for all the times He had to allow some trial to befall Israel you would know just how much it grieves Him.  He does it, though, for our benefit.  He does it to allow us to learn that His way is the right way.  He does it so that we can grow through our errors. 

I know this is not a pleasant message to think about, but it is one we all need to hear.  We all go through various trials in our lives of our own making.  It is those times we make the grievous mistake of disagreeing with God and learning too late that God was right all along.  When we go though such times, though, the important thing is not to lose our faith.  While those times may be unpleasant, we have to have the faith to know that whatever we are going through is what God knows is best for us at that time.  Surely it would have been best for us not to have sinned in the first place, but we can not go back in time and change what we did.  What we need to do is look up and move forward and allow God to help us through and even use whatever we are going through.  Just as in the Prodigal Son, we may suffer loss in our earthly lives but we will never lose that Heavenly relationship with our Father.  In the end, that is the most important thing.  That is always the most important thing.
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father."  Romans 8:15 NKJV

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