July 13, 2017
Psalm 103:8-12 - The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.
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. No, not all those children were brilliant or athletic or leaders, 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? and 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 said Jesus was part of their family. Jesus wasn't a name that was heard just on Sundays. On the contrary, Jesus was part of the day-to-day workings of the family. The other thing all of these parents said was this: "We were consistent. We said what we meant; we meant what we said."
Those parents didn't make threats or promises they weren't ready to keep. When they said, "We're going to the movies." They went to the movies. When it came time for discipline, they didn't exaggerate 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're old enough to vote."
I have to confess there are times I wish the Lord acted the way those parents did.
People might take the Lord more seriously if He punished certain sins with certain consequences. Think about it. Suppose every time someone went ten miles over the speed limit, God would give them a flat tire. I'd wager they would watch their speedometer more closely. Suppose, every time you spoke evil about somebody your taxes went up. There's no doubt in my mind that you would be careful about what you said about others.
Well, God doesn't always work that way.
He doesn't always punish us immediately or directly or completely. Because that is so, much of humanity disregard Him, disdain Him, feel free to disobey Him. Just as bad, no, even worse, is the fact that since God's punishment isn't always obvious and instant, many folks wrongly and dangerously conclude that God -- if there really is a God -- isn't serious about what He says.
God is serious. He was serious when He promised punishment for our sins. He was serious when He sent His Son as the sacrifice to save us. He remains serious when He reminds us He is coming again, and we need to be ready. We need to be ready because, as the Psalmist says,"He will not always chide; He will not keep His anger forever."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may we see Your consistency, Your constancy. May we remember that salvation comes through Jesus Christ, and punishment awaits those who disregard Your Word, Your promises, Your Son. In His Name we pray. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries