“Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God”
Food For Thought… American culture isn’t too thrilled with this verse! We don’t want a God who is stern; we want a God who is only kind—all the time. We want a God who is more like an easygoing grandfather than a strong father. We want nurture, not discipline. We prefer love without truth if the truth is going to hurt. We want a God who makes us feel good and who will guarantee our comfort and success.
This kinder, gentler theology has even invaded the church. A lot of people now go to church not to be engaged by truth, but to get a certain feeling—the warm fuzzies. That’s why a lot of people evaluate their church experience or even choose their church based on if it will make them feel good.
I suppose what we really want is a God created in our image!
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to follow a God like that. I want a God who will give me a dose of tough love when I need it. I want a God who knows what is right for me, because I certainly don’t always know what is right for me. I want a God who is my loving Father, which means that he will sometimes discipline me out of love. I want a God who is more committed to my holiness than my happiness, because I will never truly be happy, not in this life or the life to come, until I get the holiness thing right.
The writer of Hebrews talked about this when he wrote,
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:7-11)
That’s the God I want, and I need. I want a God who created me in his image; a God who will recreate me in the image of his Son.
I want a God who is kind when I need kindness, and stern when I need sternness.
A God who will give me both is a God who really loves me!
Prayer… Dear Lord, though it is not always pleasant, let your rod and your staff guide me. Do what you must to bring me back when I wander. Do whatever it takes to keep me from evil. Do whatever it takes to conform me to the image of your dear Son. Do what it takes to make me holy, even though my flesh cries out to be happy. Lord, do whatever you see fit to present me holy and without fault on that great day when I stand in your presence. And dear Father, thank you for loving me this way.
One more thing… “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth…” —C.S. Lewis