Most who read this bulletin can easily recall the times when they witnessed (and/or) experienced getting in trouble by a stranger or someone else who was not their mother or father. Believe it or not, I too, fall into that category. Those days are long gone. Discipline in schools is a joke, other people will interject themselves into other people’s affairs when trying to discipline their children, others refusing to acknowledge or accept that a wrong has occurred, etc. I could easily fill up this bulletin with just different examples of things that reference the idea of having the attitude of “no consequences”.
It all began in the beginning. Only one prohibition was mentioned. Adam and Eve were not to eat of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17). If they ate, they would lose their place in the garden and forfeit their right to the “tree of life.” They would lose their lives and their special relationship with the Lord. This was the consequence. If this happened today, most people would say “oh, do not worry about that!”, “Do not be so harsh!”, or “It is not that serious!”.
According to God, it was serious. In fact, it was so serious that He drove them out of the garden! They ate of the tree and paid the consequences for doing so. Was this God being mean? Should God have to “reexamine Himself and His choices”? I recall a disagreement I had with a parent in Monticello when I was coaching soccer. Their son kept interrupting me when I was trying to coach other players, would not listen to instruction, and at times would flat refuse to listen to anyone, including his own teammates. There’s the phrase “uncoachable kids become unemployable adults” and then there is this phrase “there is no such thing as an uncoachable child, only bad coaches”. I’ll let you determine which phrase applied to this instance.
Proverbs 13:24 He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
Proverbs 23:13 Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
Before we go any further, there needs to be an understanding that nobody is attempting to justify abuse. Abuse is unacceptable, it is evil, it is sinful, and it is wrong. If you are guilty of abusing your spouse, your children, or anyone, then shame on you! Let me also say “shame on you” to those who wish to avoid consequences altogether! This type of attitude or disposition is plaguing our culture, both in the home and in schools. Athletes, stars, and politicians are seen to break laws with impunity. Bad manners and rudeness are tolerated if you are rich or famous. Rarely are these actions or similar actions held accountable.
Proverbs 19:19 (NASB) A man of great anger will bear the penalty, For if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again.
Proverbs 19:19 (NLT) Hot-tempered people must pay the penalty. If you rescue them once, you will have to do it again.
I have heard some use the excuse “well, he said that in the heat of the moment”, as if we should just accept that person for who and what they really are because that is just their personality. I put two different translations for us to better understand exactly what is being talked about. Out of control anger brings about all types of problems. If we pursue the fruit of the spirit (self-control Galatians 5:23), those things do not lead a person to great wrath. We often give ourselves a pass for our behavior when we should not be giving ourselves anything! “For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again” – This person who is clearly incapable of controlling their anger will constantly find themselves in trouble. Rescuing them once simply is not enough because the problem is more in them than in the circumstances that they blame. It is best for them to face the consequences of their actions and pray that they learn something from it.
Imagine how this problem plagues the local church. While some churches may grow in number, spiritually they suffer. When there is a lack of discipline among members, a refusal to submit to God’s word in practice- Fornication, lying, gossiping, bitterness, selfishness, drunkenness, and similar like behavior- the practice of such things will cause one to be condemned. When we overlook sin, the consequences of the sin are not seen or felt.
1 Corinthians 5:4-5 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Paul rebuked the church at Corinth for overlooking sin. They ignored the sin and continued to accept an adulterer as a faithful brother in Christ. What did Paul tell them to do? To deliver him to Satan! Why? So that he would know where he was spiritually. He said not even to associate with this man. Why? “That is mean! That is harsh! That is judgmental!” No- it is none of those things. That is God’s way of getting that sinner’s attention to see the consequence of his sin.
2 Corinthians 2:7-8 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.
As we can see, not all consequences must end negatively. The disciplining of that man caused him to repent. Paul encouraged the brethren to reaffirm their love to him. This same principle remains true today. There is no way that anyone will remain truly faithful without facing any sort of consequences in their lives. We will all stand before God in judgment, and He will be just in His judgment.