Sound Words, May 27, 2018

Sound Words, May 27, 2018

Why Doesn’t God Strike the Wicked?

By Tom Sutherland

            Why do the wicked prosper? Why doesn’t God just zap them with fire from heaven? Why does He allow them to associate with His people? Is it right that the wicked practice evil with impunity while God is silent in heaven?

The apostle Peter answers such questions in 2Peter 2:9 where he said, “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the Day of Judgment.” It isn’t a question of power, but timing. God is able; and when the time is ripe, He will remove the godly from temptation and punish the wicked. Since God is infinitely wise, we must rely on His judgment as to when to rescue us from temptation, and not give up when He puts off His vengeance on the ungodly. Believers will be tested, and God is not unmindful of our needs. We can count on His help in the right hour.

In the meantime, we must rigidly hold to our faith in Him. It is true that God bears with the wicked for a time because according to 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Our problem is that we want God to thunder on the spot, and if He delays, it seems to us that He doesn’t judge the world anymore. Nevertheless, Peter reminds us that the wicked will by no means escape their punishment, even if it isn’t immediately enforced. Human government isn’t perfect, and sometimes the innocent are punished and the guilty go free because our information isn’t always sufficient for rendering the proper judgment. However, God is different. He knows all things, and within His own time, He will pass righteous judgment to all men.

Real Love

            Is there someone in this world you really love? I am not speaking of passion, an aching in the heart for, or even of an ecstatic delight in someone. True love transcends the realm of mere emotion. It involves emotion, all right enough, but much more! It depends more on the lover than on the lovee. The simplest and clearest proof of this is God’s love for man. He loved us while we were sinners (Rom. 5:8). The key to the love was in Him, not in us. He loved us, not because we were lovable, but because He is love (1John 4:8). It was love that spoke of forgiveness for those who with hatred and cruelty crucified him, even while he was on the cross.

It is easy to “love” and think kindly of those who please us. Such love, if love is even the right word, does not require or reflect any noteworthy virtue or character. If we only love those who love and please us, we are no different than worldly men who react according to their own interests and feelings (Matt. 5:46).

Agape’ is the Greek word used in the New Testament for the love that is a virtue and issues from character. It is required of us toward God, family, brethren, strangers, and even enemies. It is the greatest of all virtues (1Cor. 13:13) and is uncommon. It is as uncommon to love and be conciliatory toward all men as it is common for worldly people to love those who please them. This is one of the ways by which we can distinguish the true followers of our Lord (John 13:35).

Those who do not love are filled with excuses, that is, they have a self-justification in their own minds. I have known of brethren who would go for months and even years without even speaking to one another. I have known of fathers and sons fighting one another to the death, mothers and daughters deliberately hurting one another, sib- lings seeking to bring pain to one another, and erstwhile friends turning on one another. Yet all of them profess to love some folks, and can embrace and lavish tender care upon those they prefer.

As ones altogether undeserving of heaven’s love, but fully receiving it, each one of us is under solemn obligation to love. Never mind that everyone is not lovable. That’s a given. Never mind that some may have done us wrong and hurt us. We must be willing; no, we must want to forgive. We must seek for reconciliation (Matt. 18:15). An unforgiving spirit prevents us from receiving forgiveness from our heavenly Father (Matt. 6:14-15).

Perhaps if we would keep a score of kindnesses received, and no score at all of hurts suffered, we would find loving others easier. A little more gratitude and a little less selfishness and self-pity can go a long way. (Jere E. Frost, January 3, 1999)

One Thing Leads to Another

            The story is told of a country lad who was hired for a salesman’s job at a city department store. It was one of those massive stores that has every department imaginable. In fact, it was the biggest store in the world — you could get anything there.

The boss said, “You can start tomorrow, Friday morning, and I’ll come and see you when we close up.”

When the boss looked up the young man the next day at closing time, he saw him shaking hands with a beaming customer. After they parted, he walked over and asked, “Well, that looked good! How many sales did you make today?”

“That was the only one,” said the young salesman.

“Only one!” blurted the boss. “Most of my staff make 20 or 30 sales a day. You’ll have to do better than that! Well, how much was the sale worth?”

“Two hundred twenty seven thousand, three hundred thirty four dollars and change,” said the young man.

The boss paused for a moment, blinking a few times. “How did you manage that?”

“Well, when he came in this morning and I sold him a small fish hook. Then, I sold him a medium hook, and then a really large hook. Then I sold him a small fishing line, a medium one, and then a big one. I then sold him a spear- gun, a wet suit, scuba gear, nets, chum, and coolers. I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast. We decided he would probably need a new boat, so I took him down to the boat department and sold him that twenty-foot schooner with the twin engines. Then, he said that his Volkswagen probably would not be able to pull it, so I took him to the car department and sold him the new Deluxe Cruiser, with a winch, storage rack, rustproofing, and a built-in refrigerator. Oh and floor mats.”

The boss took two steps back and asked in astonishment, “You sold all that to a guy who came in for a fish hook?!”

“No,” answered the salesman. “He came in to buy a blanket.”

“A blanket?!”

“Yeah, an extra blanket for the couch. He just had a fight with his wife. I said to him, ‘Well your weekend’s ruined, so you may as well go fishing…'”

One thing leads to another. And that’s the way it should work in our spiritual lives.  As we grow and mature in Christ, we continue to add virtue upon virtue. “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2Peter 1:5-7). Wherever you are in your spiritual life, I pray that you’ll take a step up today, adding something that will make you a little more in the image of Jesus Christ. (Alan Smith)

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