Psalm 84:11-12 - For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!
Over the years, it has been my privilege to run into the occasional family whose children seem to have turned out better than all right. Those children may not have all been brilliant, but they were special. They were young men and women of integrity. They didn't go along with the crowd unless they thought the crowd was going in the right direction.
I have made it a habit to ask the parents of these children two questions: "What did you do right? What did you do that other parents don't?" Most of the time, not all of the time, but most of the time the parents point to the fact that Christ was part of their family and not just a Name the children heard on Sunday.
The other thing these parents agreed on was this: "We were consistent. We said what we meant; we meant what we said."
These parents didn't make threats or promises they weren't ready to keep. On the positive side, when they said, "We're going to the movies"; they went to the movies. On the discipline side, they didn't exaggerate or overemphasize a promised punishment. These parents didn't say, "If you don't behave, I'm going to give you a time-out that will last until you are collecting Social Security." From what I've seen, the children who came from such homes respected their parents and grew into being responsible, respectable young men and women.
To be honest, the church's job of calling people to the Lord would be easier if the Lord worked the same way. Think about it.
Might not people take the Lord more seriously if He immediately punished our sins?
Suppose every time you went ten miles over the speed limit, God gave you a flat tire. You'd watch your speedometer more closely.
Suppose every time you took His Name in vain, He gave you a toothache. You'd watch what you said.
Suppose, every time you coveted something that was your neighbor's, He deducted $100 from your savings account. You'd behave better, wouldn't you?
Well, God doesn't always work that way, and because He doesn't many folks disregard Him and feel free to disobey Him. My friends, it is a frightening thing to mistake God's grace for indifference, to confuse His mercy with disinterest, to assume His long-suffering patience is the same thing as apathy.
These are dangerous things to do.
Far better to give thanks that our Lord is long-suffering and does not immediately punish us for our many sins and multiple iniquities.
Far superior to give thanks that His fairness and justice are balanced by His grace and mercy, which have been shown to us in His Son, our Savior.
Far wiser to acknowledge that the all-knowing Lord knows what we need, when we need it, and in what proportion His bounties should come.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord. I give thanks that You do what is best for Your people, giving them what they truly need and not necessarily what they want. In Jesus' Name I give thanks. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"