September 10, 2014

If I got what I deserve . . .

One serious spiritual danger is complaining about my lot in life. When I do that, I am telling God that His care for me is inadequate or wrong.

This sinful attitude started in Eden after the liar told Eve that if she took the forbidden fruit, she would be like the gods and decide for herself what is good and what is evil. This appealed to her (even though she was already created in the image of God) and sin entered the world and humanity began thinking we know far better what we need than our Creator knows. How impudent!

Yet God He remains sovereign and we cannot change Him, so when we don’t like our situation, the tendency is to belly-ache about God’s decisions.

For me, the protection and cure for grumbling is to consider what I would get if God were not merciful. What if He dished out what I deserve? When His people Israel rebelled against Him, He said, “I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands.” (Jeremiah 1:16)

Every time I chaff against my circumstances, I am resisting God. I stop trusting Him and forsake Him for my own ideas, trying to change things without relying on Him or receiving direction from Him. If I cannot “fix” it, I grumble. Were it not for Jesus Christ, God would declare judgment against me for making an idol of me and exalting my independence.

God used strong language against those who called themselves His people yet persisted in sin. He used strong judgments also, taking them into wars, famines, and the bondage of captivity. Yet even in His wrath against their sin, His purpose was for their eventual good.

He said to them, “Yet I will leave some of you alive. When you have among the nations some who escape the sword, and when you are scattered through the countries, then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations. And they shall know that I am the Lord. I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.” (Ezekiel 6:8–10)

Apart from Jesus bearing my sin and God’s wrath, I would experience judgment also, just for the times I depart from God and go after my own way, depending on my own idols. The words are strong because the God who saved me hates sin so very deeply. He makes Himself known and yet I turn away.

These verses are directed towards those who don’t know Christ, but they show me what my lot in life could be if I rejected the truth and got what I deserve . . .

“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:18–25)

Despite my foolish persistence to trust my own ideas and grumble wishing I had this or that, God’s promises are certain, and His saving grace is sufficient. The blood of Christ covers my sinful griping. Not only that, He teaches me to trust Him, even when things are not as comfortable as I like.

I’m thankful “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” even as He knows how to “keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:9–10). I’m glad He keeps on rescuing me and persists in teaching me to be grateful rather than grouchy, and thankful rather than grumbling. Really, who am I to challenge the wisdom of God?

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