He Gives and Takes Away

29861But the people of Judah are stubborn and have turned against me. They have turned aside and gone away from me. They do not say to themselves, “We should fear the Lord our God, who gives us autumn and spring rains in their seasons, who makes sure we have the harvest at the right time.” But your evil has kept away both rain and harvest. Your sins have kept you from enjoying good things. Jeremiah 5:23-25

God is dependable. He does what he says he will do. We hold him to his promises when we can see the benefits, such as his provision of water, food, relationships, and so on. The promises we tend to skim over are the ones that have to do with his discipline. We sometimes expect him to overlook something we’ve done instead of expecting consequences.

I’m not talking about God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Of course, when we sincerely repent and turn away from the sin in our lives, he forgives us. That’s one of his promises, and he’s not about to break it. However, there are still consequences to the poor choices we’ve made. His grace, mercy and forgiveness do not negate all subsequent consequences of our actions.

When God gives an if/then statement, he intends to hold you to it. He holds himself to it, because it’s who he is. He cannot be inconsistent. It’s like saying there are no absolutes but treating that statement as an absolute. God is consistent, so being inconsistent cannot exist.

Consider the following if/then statements of Scripture. How do you respond to each and to them as a whole?

If you remember my laws and commands and obey them, I will give you rains at the right season; the land will produce crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. (Leviticus 26:3-4)

When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, I did not speak to them and give them commands only about burnt offerings and sacrifices. I also gave them this command: Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Do all that I command so that good things will happen to you. But your ancestors did not listen or pay attention to me. They were stubborn and did whatever their evil hearts wanted. They went backward, not forward. (Jeremiah 7:22-24)

Then Jacob saw the Lord standing above the ladder, and he said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your grandfather, and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are now sleeping. Your descendants will be as many as the dust of the earth. They will spread west and east, north and south, and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. I am with you and will protect you everywhere you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15)

You were all baptized into Christ, and so you were all clothed with Christ. This means that you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Greek, slave and free person, male and female. You are all the same in Christ Jesus. You belong to Christ, so you are Abraham’s descendants. You will inherit all of God’s blessings because of the promise God made to Abraham. (Galatians 3:26-19)

This is the agreement I will make with the people of Israel at that time, says the Lord. I will put my teachings in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10)

Do you hear yourself attempting to rationalize any of these truths?

In Jeremiah 5, God’s promises for rain and harvest are clear, but neither is enjoyed because of evil. Those who missed out on the blessings of God’s rain and harvest could assume God didn’t fulfill his promise, but that’s not the case at all. Their behavior is what caused the missed blessing. Of course, they can repent at any time, and the relationship between them and God will be restored, but rain and harvest might not be immediate. There are still consequences to the single act or season of sin.

God loves us no matter much. His love for his creation is part of who he is. However, he hates anything that separates us from his presence and will.

How have you personally experienced the popular adage “love the sinner, hate the sin”?

It’s definitely a challenge to live out this principle. However, it’s a God-given principle. He loves you, but he hates anything that separates you from him. When you run to him with those issues, he will forgive and heal you, but there will still be consequences to the poor choices. At the same time, because you’re created in God’s image, you’re expected to love his people but hate anything that separates people from him. That doesn’t mean you hate people. It’s a challenge to love someone while hating what they’re choosing to do. When you’re in the middle of such a situation, remember you don’t have to love with your own limited love in your own strength. God pours his love into you to pour onto others. His love is unconditional, but his acceptance is not. We don’t have to be squeaky clean before we come to him. Others don’t have to be squeaky clean to be accepted into our lives either (which is a good thing, because none of us are!). Yet we also cannot approve of and support behavior that separates people from God no matter how much we rationalize we love them. When we love with God’s love, we challenge people and hold them accountable, yet not every single person in the exact same way, because God leads us into relationships of different depths and purposes through different seasons. We have to trust him for timing and provision in every situation and relationship. One thing is certain: God will never lead us into a codependent situation. Remember, we are created in his image, and he is codependent with no one. He will not play into anything that separates anyone from him. He will not get sucked into unhealthy relationships. And when under his guidance, he will not allow you to either.

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