When I was a kid I had this babysitter – no matter what happened, it was always my fault! Her kids were never to blame for anything; it was always me on time out, regardless of what actually happened. As a Momma myself, I know all about those big words like “consequences”, “fairness”, and “judgement’ that used to baffle me so much when I was a young. Unlike my babysitter who dispensed blame to anyone but her own children, God is not “that guy” – He’s the kind of Dad who knows when his kids are wrong, He acknowledges that each of us has fallen short of His glory, and He doles out consequences – even to His own kids.
As Christians, we know that we’ve been saved from the “ultimate consequence” (death and eternal separation from God – see Romans 8:1-2; Acts 13:39), because Jesus died on the cross and rose again in order to keep those who believe in Him from that fate (Romans 5:6-11). But what about all that other sin? The stuff that we Christians do on a daily basis? (Think gossip, “white lies”, judging our fellow Sisters in Christ… that kind of thing). Does Salvation mean that we don’t have ANY consequences for sin, and get to party it up until our final days? The Bible gives us a big firm NOPE on that one (Romans 6:12-14)z
“… That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life… Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.” (Romans 6:12-14, MSG)
Let’s take a look at the book of Jonah – it is truly a study in consequences and their Godly outcomes. In the very first chapter we encounter our man Jonah, a believer, who hears from God and then literally turns his back and runs away from God’s calling in his life. As a result, Jonah experiences consequences for his disobedience – he is caught in a frightening and unrelenting storm, he is discarded by his “friends”, and then is quite literally eaten by calamity (Have you ever experienced any of those things? Might there be room to admit that sometimes, bad circumstances are brought on by bad choices?). Jonah’s sin brought him to a place of fear, rejection, and discomfort. BUT, my friends, this is the important part, even as Jonah is smack dab in the middle of the fallout from his mistakes, God is still right there with him. Jonah is never abandoned by his Father God, even though he chose to disobey him (Jonah 2:1-2) and Jonah himself, never abandons his faith (Jonah 2). Jonah is left to literally stew in the consequences of his actions, but when the time comes, God ensures that Jonah is in the perfect place to pick up His calling and to move forward in forgiveness, boldness, and blessing (Jonah 3).
“From inside the fish Jonah Prayed to the Lord his God. He said:
In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry”. (Jonah 2:1-2)
Sometimes living through the consequences of our missteps can be the vehicle that brings us to the place of obedience, and commitment to God’s calling in our lives. Jonah was quite literally barfed up right on the path of God’s calling. Just like small children, if we didn’t receive consequences for our actions we would also miss out on learning experiences and opportunities to grow to be more and more like our Heavenly Father. God can groom us to do His will by allowing us to experience the fallout of our actions, BUT in that process He promises to never He leave us and never forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
As you ponder today’s message, read through Romans 8:12-17. What does it mean to be a child of God? What does it look like in your life to be led by the Holy Spirit? Have you ever experienced the consequences of sin within your Christian walk? How did you rebuild your relationship with your Heavenly Father? What is God teaching you, building in you, grooming you for within the tribulations of your life? Let’s be thankful for a Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He is always with us in every circumstance (Psalm 34:18; Jeremiah 23:23; Acts 17;27).
”… this resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us – an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ went through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!” (Romans 8:15-17, MSG)