As a parent the fine line between consequences and grace is one that I find myself sitting on often.
It also happens in other relationships as well – spouses, friends, co-workers, church goers, and
random strangers who don’t know how to drive others.
No matter how we look at it, there are consequences for our actions. When a child behaves badly discipline is necessary. When we make bad choices with our money, we pay the price.
It doesn’t matter how much we don’t like the consequences, they just are.
Except when they are not.
Sometimes we don’t punish our kids for something because we see their heart of repentance and we offer grace. Sometimes we receive unexpected and undeserved grace instead of paying the price for our bad choices.
This is a hard one for me! I want to show grace. I want to receive grace. But I also want to see people who have made mistakes have to learn to deal with their consequences. I want justice.
Is this how God feels about us? Is he torn?
In 2 Samuel 11-12 we see a good example of consequences for actions. King David, who should have been off at war with his troops, is at home and sees this lovely woman bathing next door. He sends for her, has his way with her, and sends her back. Not long after, Bathsheba finds herself pregnant, but since her husband was off at war (where David should have been) it will soon be obvious it is not Uriah’s child. When David gets word from her about the child, He sends for Uriah to bring news from the front lines. David tries, unsuccessfully, to get Uriah to go home to his wife, but Uriah will not go. So, David sends him back out and orders that he be sent where the fighting is fiercest so that he may be killed in battle. David’s plan succeeds, and he brings Bathsheba into his home.
But the problem is this, God saw it. He knows what happened and He sent Nathan, the prophet, to confront David about it. David repents of his sin, but there is still a consequence to be had. David’s child dies.
There it is. Consequences for his actions. Yes, David had more children, and Bathsheba even bore Solomon, the heir to David’s throne, but there were still consequences for what he did.
But what about us?
In the New Testament we hear over and over of the story of Jesus, God’s Son, who came to this earth as an infant, grew up and lived a pure life. He was charged for crimes He did not commit and suffered the consequences for not His actions, but ours, as He died a criminal’s death on the cross. He gave us something that we didn’t deserve – grace. We shouldn’t be forgiven, but we are. We shouldn’t be loved and cared for by a God that we turn away from, but we are.
How are we any better than David? Why did we get to experience such significant grace?
And yet, there are still sometimes that we get what we deserve in the short-term – consequences. And other times we get what we don’t deserve – grace.
I don’t always know how to reconcile that. Especially the justice-seeking side of me. Especially the grace-giving side of me.
I guess what it comes down to is there is a fine line between consequences and grace and I will never, on this side of heaven, understand why sometimes we have consequences and sometimes we have grace on this earth. But I do know that if we will receive it, ultimately we are all eligible recipients of the eternal grace of God. And that is more than enough.