A little 'parenting' lesson

The Lord shows mercy and is kind. He does not become angry quickly, and he has great love. He will not always accuse us, and he will not be angry forever. He has not punished us as our sins should be punished; he has not repaid us for the evil we have done. As high as the sky is above the earth, so great is his love for those who respect him. He has taken our sins away from us as far as the east is from west. (Psalm 103:8-12)

I find it very good news that God does not punish us as our sins should be punished. As a parent, I often considered the ill-behavior of my children and found myself in a quandary as to how to 'punish' the ill behavior. There were even times I'd ask the offended party to name the punishment for the offending party - as though a brother or sister who was angry with the other was the right one to pick the punishment! I even tried asking the ill-behaving child to pick their own punishment on occasion. I guess I was out of options at that point - sorry kids. God doesn't relish punishing bad behavior any more than we did as parents. In fact, he would rather we just listen closely, obey the first time, and avoid the need for any 'corrective action' within our lives. Doesn't that sound familiar? The amazing thing about our 'heavenly parent' is that he doesn't need to seek advice on what to do when our behavior isn't quite up to snuff. 

God knows very well that our own consciences can be the greatest 'punishment' any of us can endure. We act incorrectly, realize our behavior was directly the opposite of what God would have desired, and we begin to 'feel' the pain of our choices. Why? Our conscience begins to 'condemn' us. We begin to feel the 'inward disapproval' of our actions caused by the tugging of our conscience. The good news is that we don't have to wallow in our condemnation - we can bring our misguided deeds to God and lay them out before him. As we do, we begin to find an easing of those feelings of 'internal disapproval'. Why? God is restoring us inwardly. Confession is really a means of inward restoration - the renewing of our minds. The feelings may take a while to follow, but what God sets in motion is sure to come to fruition.

When I asked one of my children to determine the 'right punishment' for something their sibling had done against them, such as breaking one of their favorite toys, it usually ended in a good outcome. I guess I am fortunate this way because they were more reasonable and forgiving of each other than I would have wanted them to be at that moment of frustration in my life as a parent. I was caught up in the emotion of their adverse behavior - they were caught up in doing what I asked them to do - forgive one another and show each other the love and respect of siblings. As I witnessed how 'lenient' they were toward one another, I began to realize just how 'lenient' God has been with me, as well. My bad behavior throughout the years could have 'deserved' much worse 'punishment', but somehow God's grace provided for a much 'lesser' punishment. 

We don't 'deserve' forgiveness - but it is rendered all the same. We don't 'deserve' leniency - but it comes our way time after time. We don't 'deserve' to be loved - but love involves risk and God risked it all to show us how much we are each loved so very much. Bask in his love today - let your conscience be healed - and then begin to embrace him fully. Restoration begins in realizing just how deeply we are loved. Just sayin!

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