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There is one thing we can always be sure of: God is unfailingly interested in what is good for us in the long run. Because He is, there are times when He allows events to unfold in such a way that we, and those around us, learn from our mistakes the hard way. God having forgiven us, we might prefer Him to protect us from any of the painful results of our sins, but the fact is, sometimes we suffer effects of our sins even after we are forgiven. These consequences do not mean God has not forgiven us, but rather that there are some lessons still to be learned by us -- and perhaps by others also -- from the mistakes that we made.
One reason God sometimes brings upon us temporal consequences of our sins, despite our repentance, is that He knows the unbelieving world is watching. When those who claim to be loyal to God act with dishonor toward His word, the cause of truth would be hurt if God appeared to care so little about His own honor that He let His followers "get away with" showing disrespect to Him. Often, God's chastening of His children is His way of saying to the world: unacceptable conduct will not be accepted.
This was clearly involved in the consequences of David's sin with Bathsheba. He repented, but Nathan told him: "Because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die" (2 Sam. 12:14 NKJV). Since David was in a position of great influence, it needed to be made clear to all who were watching his example that God did not approve of the sin he had committed.
As most of us have discovered, the lessons learned in the "school of hard knocks" are some of the most important lessons in life. But looking back, most of us probably wish that we'd been willing to learn from the experience of others without having to endure such painful consequences in our own lives. By our sins, we made our much lives harder than they had to be.
So this week, let's meditate on the fact that sin is a hard taskmaster. If we don't want to be educated by painful experience, then we need to stay away from sin in the first place!
Monday: Numbers 20:1-13
Key Idea: God sometimes brings upon us temporal consequences of our sins.
Questions for Family Growth: What does "temporal" mean? What did Moses do that displeased God? As a consequence, what did God say Moses would not be allowed to do? What lesson should Moses have learned from this? Should the people have learned anything from it?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:17,18.
Tuesday: 1 Samuel 15:17-31
Key Idea: Sometimes we must suffer consequences even after we are sorry for our sins.
Questions for Family Growth: What did Saul do that displeased God? What did Saul's actions indicate about his attitude? What did God say would be the result? Did the fact that Saul was sorry change God's mind about the consequences of his sin?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:19-21.
Wednesday: Proverbs 1:20-33
Key Idea: There comes a time when it is too late to listen to good advice.
Questions for Family Growth: What is "wisdom"? What are several different places where we can gain wisdom? What does this passage say will happen if we refuse to listen to wisdom while we have the opportunity?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:22.
Thursday: Proverbs 13:15
Key Idea: The way of sin is a hard way to go.
Questions for Family Growth: What are some reasons why the "way of the unfaithful is hard" (NKJV)? If we follow the devil, is he interested in doing good things for us in return? What is the devil's true intent with respect to our happiness?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:23.
Friday: Hebrews 12:3-11
Key Idea: God chastens us for our sins because He wants us to do better.
Questions for Family Growth: What is "chastening" or "discipline"? Why do parents chasten their children? Why does God chasten us? In practical terms, what do you think are some ways that God might chasten us?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 23:24,25.