A lot of times I hear folks say things like:
I don’t deserve that.
Or the popular one lately:
I can’t be forgiven, and will never be allowed to do ________
We often try our hardest to correct ourselves, we judge ourselves the most critically over others, but most times we never voice it aloud, only in those times where we talk to our dearest friends or closest family members do we let out that we are not worthy of blessings – we feel that we’ve screwed up somewhere along the line and we don’t deserve the good things that appear in our lives, and often we sabotage ourselves from blessings.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Do we deserve life? No. We are born into a world of sin – sin is part of our worldly DNA, but that only covers the first part, of the verse, we deserve death, but! (Oh yes, there is a but!) part two gives us the gift, that we must simply accept…. eternal life.
So many things in this life come at but a choice, an old song by Big Tent Revival was called “Choose Life” and it was a good reminder than we must CHOOSE life, and that entails a two key things:
- Accepting Christ to direct/rule/guide/BE our life.
- Accepting his Grace & Forgiveness, but too learning to forgive ourselves.
I often see #2 being the hardest thing to get a hold of, because while God is one to forgive and forget, our old human brains can’t always understand forgiveness for others, or importantly ourselves, because we sometimes hold a heart of un-forgiveness for ourselves that prevent us from recognizing God’s Grace, God’s Forgiveness, and God’s Blessings when they come around.
Now I’m not saying that punishment won’t come. Sorry not one of those folks who thinks God’s all sunshine and rainbows – but speaking of one of his promises – Rainbows! You know that’s a promise from God? In Genesis we see that promise from God speaking to Noah:
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”
God could of spared easily the entire world of the sake of Noah, and yet punishment had to come – like any good parent one must know that punishment is part of correction, part of helping learn when something isn’t good for you – and sometimes to learn we must go thru pain, hurt, and separation from God’s blessing upon our life – like when a parent tells you “Don’t touch that pan, its hot!” and as a child you do – You can get burned, or the extreme pain from the hot pan! You felt the pain and a parent corrects you even while attempting to relieve the pain.
And that’s the truth of it, correction comes in many forms – most think of correction as punishment, but really by its definition its meant for our better! Correction quite simply is defined:
- The action or process of correcting something.
- A change that rectifies an error or inaccuracy.
Fixing an error – or really what I break it down to is God adjusting our course – and sometimes changes like that aren’t comfortable, it could mean a BIG life change, it can mean a tough journey ahead, it can mean missed blessings until your back on course with God leading the way.
Going back to Noah, God needed to get things back on course, and while we can’t understand maybe how bad the world was off, how much sin overwhelmed the world, we each have our perspective on that I’m sure – but God felt drastic measures were needed – but how often do we believe God’s correction is going to be a giant sized correction taking away our fun, our fun, our joy, and in some cases our lives? How often do we attempt to beat God to the punch?
The Bible actually mentions this exact thing in the word – let me share a little story of a Father with Two Sons:
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘ Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
31 ” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”
The son squandered his wealth in wild living. Let’s figure that wild living quite simply put is Sin – look at the effet it had on his life, I remember as a kid the cartoon version in Sunday School had the son having wild parties, and tons of friends but as it wore out not a person would have him – Sin does just that it cuts us off from the life God has for us, it takes us off course – he was ashamed and not understanding forgiveness and not feeling worthy he stayed off course, he worked with pigs! From Partying to Pigs!
Now there isn’t a time frame, could of been weeks, days, or mere hours – I love where it says When he came to his senses – for me I do that far too often sometimes, when I know I’ve dropped the ball for God, even friends and family, I have that moment where I forget all reason, where there is no way anyone could forgive me for what I’ve done – no matter the size! But the devil holds us in that prison, but how easy is it truly to be forgiven?
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
Growing up I think I heard simply 1:9 preached the most, and its the key to it all, if we CONFESS – but I’m throwing in the rest because I think its a fair reminder to break down that YOU are not alone in having sinned, we all have – and to say we are without sin oi! Don’t do it!
So if forgiveness is so easy, and freely given, why do I need to worry about correction? I think the word that gets confused in this mostly is the punishment or discipline end of things, we think that in the correction of things God’s going to simply snuff us out, or punish us SO badly we’ll never recover, but sometimes we simply have to have the imperfections removed from our lives.
Like in sword making, you start off with a large piece of metal, a block – now as a block this is a weapon, but in a battle you probably desire a sword over a club, swords are faster – but to get this block of metal into a sword it has to go thru extreme heat to break up bonds of the metal and make it able to be shaped – God shapes us by correction, and that may be sometimes allowing us to go into the fire to break up the things in our lives that don’t belong, but then he begins the process of shaping us more and more, after he’s made some adjustments and hammered out some sin, he puts us back into cool water and lets all of those changes set – but thru our lives He will do this many times getting us to where he sharpens our edges and makes us a more able and useful part of the whole – for I think in reaching the world, God desires to shape us into a sword cutting thru the lies of this world, then clubbing someone over the head with a chunk of metal trying to “Save” them.
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
To sum this all up, God is a good parent, he’s not going to let you slip and slide, and he does have the option to simply wipe away and forgive – I don’t doubt that, but like most parents you know that correction does include punishment – but like a good parent Jeremiah 29:11 really hits home that God has plans for Good, he wants to see you prosper, come to no harm, full of hope and a future that is bright! However to get there we sometimes need to allow correction, accept forgiveness and allow his plans to truly take shape in our lives not to be de-railed by our own fear that God the angry parent is going to give us a whoop’n of a lifetime – but even if he DOES go that route, like any parent knows correction is not hard for just the child, but the parent as well because like the promise in 29:11 a parent wants those SAME things, and after say a spanking, the child may not be happy, but they understand even more the consequences of their actions, and for God He was to be clear again and again if needed the wages of Sin = Death.
So let go of your fear of God’s correction in your life, let Him forgive you, accept that forgiveness, and when the correction comes, keep your eyes on the path he has set for you because as Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Trust that God has your BEST in mind! Don’t be afraid to lean on him for everything, and he will brighten your path to the good things he has planned for you! May mean a trip to the woodshed, but learn from correction when it comes and let it get you back on straight paths – for what YOU feel you deserve is VERY different most times from what God DESIRES for you!