Thus says the Lord, as recorded by the prophet Jeremiah (chapter 30):
10″Then fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the LORD,
nor be dismayed, O Israel;
for behold, I will save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid.
11For I am with you to save you,
declares the LORD;
I will make a full end of all the nations
among whom I scattered you,
but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”
Ouch. Hey, God, we thought you were going to save us. Couldn’t you spare the rod? But, no. God loves us far too much to let us go scot-free.
So it should be with our children. Starting perhaps 50 years ago, the West decided that corporal punishment was cruel and unusual. Little Dick and Jane had to be nurtured, encouraged. There was no such thing as a bad child; just a misunderstood child. This helped to produce faux empathetic “leaders” like Bill (“I feel you pain”) Clinton, and the entire “if it feels good, do it” mentality.
As with children, so it was with ancient Israel. So it is with today’s Israel, the Christian church. God loves us far too much to simply let us slide into a plush and prosperous idolatry. God loves us far too much to allow us to take the easy road of lowered expectations.
Christians need not be ascetics. We can be, but it’s not necessary. On the other hand, Christians must not be be sybarites. Which we all to obviously have tended towards, at least as a society. The key is to never take our eyes off of the prize: fearing, and loving, God, heeding His Word, walking in His ways.
For those who think this does not make a difference, and that God loves all of us to forgive all our sins, each and every one, I suggest we refresh our memories with something His Son taught us. Jesus tells us, as regards our salvation, in Matthew 7, that we may
13″Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
The broad way leads to destruction. We’ve been forewarned, by the Word made flesh, who loves us far too much to expect less from us.
Note: see C.H. Spurgeon on Jeremiah 30:11 (from Faith’s Check Book, Daily Entry for October 19, 2005).
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