When God Is Not Quite Mocked
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Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
4 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 5 For we are each responsible for our own conduct.
6 Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them.
7 Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8 Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. – Galatians 6:1-10
They weren’t that expensive. Not really that beautiful. Not worth getting overly exercised about. But there they weren’t. An empty spot on the sidewalk where they should have been. One on each side of the doorway into the church. How galling! How rude. How completely hubristic! Stealing concrete planters from the church. Throwing aside the plants that were previously in them. I’m not sure I can fathom what possessed someone to see them, decide that they were valuable enough to steal, and then to walk up the 40 feet of the sidewalk to dump out the plants and carry the planters away.
But I remember vividly what I did next. We replace the concrete planters with new ones. They were also stolen! So when we put out the third set, I made a label on the bottom, “Be not deceived. God cannot be mocked.” The newest planters remained. I guess the thieves didn’t really need a third pair. It’s obvious they didn’t read my label. Nonetheless, it’s true. God is not mocked.
I’d like to think I never mock God. I’d like to believe I have a strong enough conscience that I won’t blatantly disregard God’s laws or wantonly transgress against his commands. I’d like to believe that. Most Jesus followers would wish never to mock God. Most would avoid serious transgression. Few need to be restored from an entanglement to sin that requires outside help and intervention.
But some do. Just last week I learned of a church worker who had to resign his position because of moral failure. He apparently succumbed to temptation – not once but four times. Four times he crossed the line. Four times he went down a path that required intervention. Sadly, though helped (and the help, love, and care continues for this man – thanks be to God!), he is now set aside from his ministry.
Whether or not our church body’s zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct is right, that is the policy. And while this is not to say he is outside the grace of God, it is a severe consequence for his actions.
We’d like to think we’d never do such a thing. And perhaps few Jesus followers actually do cross the line. But if James 2:10 means anything, it serves as a reminder that in fact, “there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we all need help once in a while.
Sometimes that help takes the form of sever intervention. Hopefully more often we intervene before drastic action is needed. But the purpose in every such intervention is to restore the sister or brother to the faith and fellowship of the redeemed. And that’s the thing we must all remember: ours is a fellowship of the redeemed. We stand on level ground at the foot of the cross.