Occasionally we read a bit of scripture like this and suppose God’s behavior unreasonable. Other times we hear, “I thought your God was a loving God?” The truth of the matter is that God’s ways are perfect and we will fully appreciate their implications when we [Christians] get to Heaven. However, in the meantime, we can take great comfort in appreciating that God, in His grace and mercy, has provided us examples so that we might not repeat mistakes.
God Has a Plan
“…Having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him.” Ephesians 1:9-10
It seems like an obvious statement, but God has a plan and we can see it plainly outlined in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Everything we do is either in agreement with His will or in opposition to it–everything. We should further recognize that there is nothing we can do to thwart His plan, but there are things we can do to delay the blessings He desires to bestow upon us. Likely the best example we have is in post-Exodus Israel. God’s intent was to bring them into the Promised Land about a year after they left Egypt, but because of their disbelief they turned a week-long trip into a forty year journey. God’s purpose was not destroyed, just delayed. The experience is recorded, at least in part, as an illustration for us.
Surely there must have been other stick-gatherers; why weren’t they stoned to death? We might never know the answer to that question, but we do know this guy’s actions stand as our example today. You could say that this man’s mission in life was to be an example. Was he damned too? Not necessarily.
The truth of the matter is that a person might be saved, but because they opted to venture into sinful territory (maybe just one time), God opted to use him or her as an example for others. Suddenly their mission field is reduced to an illustration depicting what not to do. Is their salvation still secure? If they knew Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior it is, but their ministry to God ends up becoming a shortened or radically altered life.
Teaching Our Kids
Clearly these are things we need to know, but it’s imperative that we are driving-home this notion to our kids. Far too many of our saved children, particularly teenagers and young adults, are living lives with one foot on the narrow path and one in the gutter. They (we) need to know that while their salvation might be secure, there are always consequences and at the extreme-est level, their conduct may be converted into an example for everyone else. God is not mocked and everyone saved or not, will reap what is sown.
What if you Survive?
Not every Christian who stumbles in sin winds-up a dead example for the rest of us. The reality is that most of us, gratefully, do not. However, many of us become so distraught by the repercussions of our past behavior we become mired in spiritual depression that prevents us from being of any earthly good. This is precisely where the nation of Israel found themselves in the 15th book of Numbers. Our loving God offers a remedy…
“Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. Numbers 15: 38-40
Blue is the color of Heaven and while our Father is not mandating that we adorn our garments, herein lies an application for the Church; a remedy for what ails us. When we mess up (and we will), let us be mindful to keep our eyes on the Heavenly prize eternal. There is no need to be anxious or distressed for those who are in Christ Jesus. Remember and do.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3