Love in Judgment

Ezekiel 11:16   (KJV)   16 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.

Even when God finally judges us or disciplines us, even when we’re suffering the unpleasant consequences of our foolish choices, even when we find ourselves in non-ideal situations, God’s love and grace never stops.

Ezekiel 11.16 - Love in JudgmentThe immeasurable abundance of God’s love and grace can’t be denied; they’re very obvious; we’re surrounded by them and our experiences are inundated with them. But there comes a time when He finds it wise to discipline us, or judge us.

He doesn’t delight in resorting to punishment; He’s slow to anger and He doesn’t execute judgment right away the moment we sin. He patiently does so many things in so many ways to get our distracted attention and correct our brazen rebellion. He tries—over and over and over… He’s a God of second chances; that’s so true, and yet in so many cases, that’s a very obvious understatement.

When we sincerely repent, He forgives us; He doesn’t hold grudges. But I admit, despite our most earnest intentions, we still fail Him. From the time we’ve surrendered our lives to Him until now, how many times has He forgiven us? Second chance—it’s more like millions of chances. So His love, mercy, grace, patience—all these can’t be questioned. When He finally judges people or nations, it’s because that’s the only recourse left if there is any possibility of waking up to the reality of their utter ungodliness.

Even in the middle of judgment, and/or punishment, and/or discipline, God is still calling, wooing, drawing, expecting the rebellious to finally come to their senses and turn back to Him. Of course, there are those who persist in their stubbornness, but there are those who wake-up and realize the terrible state they’re in.  But as for God, He longs that His people be restored instead of destroyed. Even in the middle of judgment, there’s mercy, there’s grace, there’s a promise, there’s hope. What a God!!!

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To be Spared from Judgment

Jeremiah 26:13   (KJV)   13 Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.

There is hope even in the middle of an impending judgment from the Lord. Repentance and obedience are the keys. God loves the world so much; He would rather save the rebellious than judge or destroy them. Even if He has already pronounced destruction Jeremiah 26.13 - To be Spared from Judgmentupon the people, He doesn’t have any problem forgiving repentant sinners and withholding judgment from the nations.

Our loving, gracious, and merciful God sends us—many of us—to the lost and dying humanity. Many of them are unbelievably stiff-necked. They would rather ignore or attack God’s faithful messengers than humbly and wisely listening, acknowledging their impudent rebellions, sincerely repenting, and start living obediently before the Lord.

Repentance and obedience are non-negotiable pre-requisites. Praise God! He doesn’t require us to perform amazing feats before He grants us forgiveness and restoration. We don’t have to climb the tallest mountains, sail across the widest oceans, dive the deepest sees and explore the vastness of the universe before He withholds His judgments.

Turn to God—that’s what we did, that’s what we pray and strive for that others would do as well. There’s no human experience as amazing and as important as salvation from sure destruction—especially the eternal kind. The same principle holds true when it comes to judgment of nations. We have hope despite the chaos going on. We’re praying; we’re expectantly waiting. God can deliver us.

There will come a time when it’s too late. But as for us, we didn’t want to wait for that. We’re already living under the shelter of the Most High. We’re already living under His protection, and safe refuge. We do our best calling others to enjoy this peace-filled assurance. Not all, perhaps not many will heed our call. But to everyone who does, safety is sure.

Fear the Father?

1 Peter 1:17   (KJV)   17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

We boldly call God our Father. It’s to Him we pray. He’s the One Who answers our prayers and blesses us graciously; He’s also the One who judges and will judge all of us 1 Peter 1.17 - Fear the Fatheraccording to our works. The appropriate response to these as pilgrims on a sacred journey is to live in fear of God.

We often connect fear to the LORD being our God who judges and condemns, and we connect love to Him being our Father who provides, guides, and saves. But this passage doesn’t show that distinction; the Father is the judge we need to fear.

We have a heavenly Father we can always call on and count on–anytime, anywhere. He’s a perfectly fair Dad. And since He will judge or reward us according to our works, it’s only appropriate that we do what’s good, right, and godly. We’ll always be aware of His incomprehensible greatness and awesomeness so there’ll never be a point in time when we’ll act like little spoiled kids treating our Dad with contempt. No; He’s too mighty, majestic, magnificent, and marvelous for that.

Restoration and Vindication

Micah 7:9   (KJV)   I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.

We’re willing to submit ourselves to our heavenly Father’s discipline. Yes, we still sin. To say we no longer do makes liars out of us. Yes, we can still grieve the Holy Spirit. Yes, God Micah 7.9 - Restoration and Vindicationstill doesn’t like sin. Yes, God still doesn’t like us sinning. And yes, He still disciplines His children.

But we don’t beat ourselves on the head when we fall. It’s good that we don’t feel good about it when we do things that displease Him Who we want to please the most. Conviction is good. The worst thing is to feel easy, comfortable, and even okay about sinning. But when we offend our heavenly Dad, we don’t cower away and pull away from Him. We fall, but we rise; we don’t stay down—that’s what the righteous do.

We know that our heavenly Father is full of love and invites us to boldly come to His throne of grace so we can receive grace and mercy when we need it. He’s our Shepherd Who restores the souls of the contrite in heart. We don’t think about God no longer wanting to do anything for us just because we fail Him. True, we undergo the process of discipline, but even as He disciplines us, our Lord Jesus is also interceding for us. And in His own timing, He brings us forth to the light, and we see Him vindicate us against those who attack us, put us down, embarrass us, and mock us and our Father.

Grace, Works, and Rewards

Ephesians 6:8   (KJV)   8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Even in and under the age of grace, the Lord still operates in a reward system. Doing good still has its merits and blessings. All of us are still affected by this divinely ordained principle, system, or design.

Ephesians 6.8 - Grace, Works, and RewardsWhoever we are and whatever our status is in society, we live in the assurance that our God Who is gracious is also God who is fair and just. He won’t shortchange us. God compensates our life of loving faithfulness. He doesn’t have favoritism; it’s because (I personally take it as) we’re all His favorites.

We find delight in pleasing our Master, and He returns the favor in an inestimably gracious way. That’s why I understand that there’s no contradiction between grace and rewards. God values our good works, He rewards them, and His rewards are incalculably more gracious than what our works deserve. This is clear in the principle of sowing and reaping; in general, what we reap is always multiplied times more than what we sow.

This is why we so willingly, lovingly, diligently, and enthusiastically serve the Lord and others. Although His rewards aren’t our prime motivation, we believe the truth about it. They’re real; they come; we gratefully receive them, we enjoy them; and we know there’s a lot more of them. Praise God.

Sin: Hidden or Forsaken?

Proverbs 28:13   (KJV)   13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Hiding or concealing sin has an adverse effect or consequence: it causes some kind of failure. Conversely, confessing and forsaking sins has a positive or favorable consequence: mercy—withholding of corresponding punishment or penalty.

Proverbs 28.13 - Sin - Hidden or ForsakenInstead of regarding or hiding sins in our hearts and being more concerned about effectively covering them to avoid being caught, we confess them quickly and sincerely. There may be discussions as to the extents of the meaning of “not prosper,” but regardless of anyone’s interpretation, we would like to avoid it at all cost. We sin—that alone is always heartbreaking as believers, why linger there?

For others to come to a point when they would rather cover their sins than confess them is a proof that they’re already treading a very dangerous ground in their Christian walk—it’s a clear indicator that there’s a part of their walk where they are already off-course—they’ve been derailed and need to do everything to get right back on track as quickly as possible. We don’t hold on to sin; we discard and throw away every sin from us because they weigh us down and sidelines us. We don’t want to miss out on anything that our good God has for us. We desire the prosperity He wants us to have.

The more we’re tempted to cover our sins, to sugar-coat them, the greater the need for us to get rid of them as quickly as we would a burning coal or a ticking bomb in our hands. Mercy is a better choice than failure. Some people feel like they get away with it because they’re still succeeding even as they continue secretly sinning. But they don’t know what much greater benefits the Lord would have poured out on them had they chosen to walk faithfully instead. Besides, there really is nothing hidden; men may not see everything, but God sees all things. He already declared that there’s nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and that our sins will find us out. Why risk it?

Truth be told: we don’t ever want to find ourselves with a slightest inclination of covering our sins. We’d rather live in His pleasure.

God’s Goodness and Severity

Romans 11:22   (KJV)   22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

God is good and severe; God is loving and just; God is Father and Lord; God is gracious and holy; God is to be loved and feared. All facets of God’s nature are true; one ought to not be sacrificed for the other; one ought to not be rejected in preference of another. All Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliffof them have to be embraced. I’ve observed so many people becoming very passionate about one of God’s natures and in doing so undermining the value of another, perhaps unawarely.

“Behold;” take a look; observe it; notice: God is both good and severe. He is loving, gentle, kind; He is also holy, stern, strict, serious. His Fatherhood is a good, balanced Fatherhood. He loves and disciplines. He doesn’t rear spoiled kingdom kids.  It’s clearly explicit: “on them which fell,” to those who live in disobedience, He is severe. That’s not birthed out of thoughtless and angry emotion or passion. That springs forth from His wisdom and patience.

On the other hand, “if thou continue in His goodness,” if we continue to live faithfully in the light of His goodness, He continues to pour out more goodness to us than we deserve. What God gives to us is always way more abundant than what our actions merit—He is gracious, that is. And it’s important that we heed these words soberly. He is more serious about it than how a lot of believers think and teach. If we fall and don’t stay down, if we don’t continue in His goodness, we “also”—which could mean it’s been true to others already—“shalt be cut off.”

Instead of being quick to interpret those words away to fit our emphasis on the doctrine of love and grace, my loving encouragement is that we please consider the severity of those words more than we probably have been willing to before. In the first place, our loving and gracious God included them in His recorded Words for loving and gracious reasons. He’s not hating on us in recording those words.