I’ve talked before on this blog about the “lucky” history and upbringing, where I’ve been surrounded by great Christian environments, people and role models for all of my life. I’ve also been pretty transparent, letting you know that even with those things, I’ve fallen short too many times.
However, I also want to make clear the fact that I’m still learning, and still figuring things out. Things I’ve always assumed to be true are blindsided by something I hear at church, in a bible study or another experience where I truly believe God is talking to me.
I wanted to tell you about one of those situations, or lessons, I’ve recently had in the last year or two. I say its been a year or two, because although I might have heard this truth a while ago, God’s continued to prove it to me through experience after experience.
First let me say that I believe in total grace, which has saved me from a future of damnation and eternal hell. Nothing I did paid the price for that, or even put me in God’s favor even for a second to “earn” that. With that being said, I also believe that God does allow life consequences to happen if we sin. If you cheat on your husband, you can ask for forgiveness, and that won’t affect your future in heaven. If you cheat on your taxes, or even kill someone, as long as there is a genuine asking for forgiveness and the effort to live differently, eternal life is still yours.
But, once again, there are still consequences. Cheating on your husband may lead to a painful divorce, broken relationships with your kids, and fallout for quite a while. Cheating on your taxes could have you end of paying fines for years to come. Killing someone can have severe consequences, such as many years or even your life in the slammer. However, regardless of what you do, Jesus Christ has already paid the price, and through forgiveness which you did not earn, has redeemed you from your own doing.
Ok, so we’re clear on what I believe.
I guess through my sinning, I always believed that God’s main tool for helping me change and get back on the right track was pain. Hard financial consequences I believed was his tool of choice, mainly because that is what I experienced for the first ten plus years of my “adult” life. If I sinned, I could expect another hard month, or some unexpected bill to arrive in the mail which would set me back for a half a year.
In response, my goal was to not sin, so I didn’t have financial troubles. I needed to keep on track so there would be more money at the end of the month, instead of more month at the end of the money. I remember doing something wrong, knowing it was wrong, and just waiting for God to bring down the hammer on my life. I was just waiting for the spanking. I ended up getting good at correlating whatever bad which was going on in my life to whatever recent sin I committed.
If my car got into an (expensive) accident, it was because I lied yesterday. If a business deal fell through, it was because my eyes and mind wondered too much onto someone I found attractive. If I ended up in the red one month, it was obviously because I refused to forgive someone who hurt me. On and on, and on. This line of thinking exhausted me.
The problems was that I was not sinning because of those negative consequences. Now I know what you’re thinking… I was not “sinning”, so that is good, right? Yes, not sinning is good. Making sure I tell the truth is good, being kind to those who will never be nice to me is good. I totally agree. However, I believe that God wants us to not sin, because we love him, not just because we’re scared of what could happen to us.
I think about my sons, and how I want them to do the right thing because they honor and trust what I’ve taught them… Not just because they are scared of how I can discipline them. Whether it is my sons or me, I want us to do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. By doing the right thing we are showing respect to the person who taught us right verses wrong.
Ok, back to my hysteria.
I was whipping myself into such a frenzy, that I was just trying to escape negative consequences. Once again, I’ll state the obvious. Not doing bad is good. However, the focus was on me… making sure I didn’t “get in trouble”. It was not on building a better relationship with God, and living the way a Christian should because I’m honoring my creator.
Here is the other obvious one-two punch I realized… Bad things happen to everyone regardless of who you are, what you do and how you live. No one has an easy life, except those wives on those horrible reality shows like Mob Wives, Baseball/Basketball Wives, or the Real Wives of (insert a city). Ok, kidding there. My point is that if I’m using “bad things” to direct my thoughts and behavior, they were and are a bad assessment tool to make me do good, because they many times do not have any correlation with how I’m living.
Bad things happen because I’m simply breathing. I’m human. There is sin in the world, so what do I expect? Here is what I want you to get from this, because I could yap all day about it: Once my picture of God changed from the “policeman” in the sky, throwing lightning bolts whenever I did something bad, everything changed. When I stepped back and realized that those little pops of pain in my life, was just life, a lot changed in my life.
When I really examined my consequences, I realized that what was happening to me was no where near what I deserved for my infractions or “mega sins”. Plus, in nine out of the ten times, any pain I felt either was short, or really opened the door for something better to happen in my life. Here is another thing which is hitting me even more as I write this: If I truly received “bad stuff” whenever I sinned… God must be horrible at math, because he is only “disciplining” me for a small fraction of the bad stuff I do.
The more I lived like this, the more I realized, God wasn’t using bad things or even painful consequences to ruin my life after sin. The more I paid attention to it, He loved on me more and more with more grace, more opportunities, more good things than I could count. Yep, right now it is hard to see the computer screen because of the tears in my eyes.
Ok, give me a sec.
I hope as you are reading this you realize this too. As many bad things which are happening in your life right now, as far as you think you are from God, and how you are suppose to live as a good person, God is not punishing you because of your sin. That was taken care of a long, long time ago on a cross. He paid for your sin by dying for your sin. We don’t have to pay anymore.
There is an important part two coming up.