Theme of the Week: Father like the Father
Bible Verse: “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
Scripture Reading: Genesis 2:16-17
When God spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden, He was very clear. Everything in the garden was fair game, except for one tree that was off limits. Eating from that fruit carried the death penalty. With all the lavish abundance present in the garden, the choice should have been simple, yet that is precisely what Adam did.
By all accounts, the human story should have been a very short one. God should have confronted Adam and Eve in the garden and killed them on the spot, but He didn’t.
This seems like an odd way to start the human story. It’s usually not a good idea for parents to make threats that they don’t carry out. Good parents know that once you declare a penalty, you need to stick to it. You must be true to your word. You must “take the toy away”, “ground them for a week”, or literally “turn the car around and go home.” If you don’t follow through, your kids learn to ignore you.
So what happened? Why are we still here? Why didn’t the God of justice, the God who cannot lie, immediately wipe out the human race?
God is also a God of mercy.
Had He killed them on the spot, there would have been justice, but no mercy. Had He simply erased their sentence, there would have been mercy, with no justice. Instead, He delayed its execution long enough for the relationship to be reconciled. By choosing to delay, He found a way for mercy and justice to coexist.
The balance between justice and mercy can be difficult for us to follow. Lean too heavily on the side of justice, and we parent with a cold, iron fist. Our children may obey us, but they do so out of compulsion. As soon as they break free from our control, they rebel.
But if you lean too far on the side of mercy, our kids grow wild and unruly. We must have both.
One of the most tender examples of this is found in Genesis 3:21. God had just finished kicking Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and giving them their sentences of hard labor and pain when He did the unexpected. He made clothes for them.
You can almost imagine God dressing His weepy children saying, “It’ll be okay … It won’t be easy, but I’m not giving up on you. I’ll be here for you. Look, I made these for you.”
To father like the Father, we must show compassion.
Pray that God will give you the wisdom to be able to parent with both justice and mercy.
For more information on this topic, listen to Balancing Grace and Truth.
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