Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord, and whom You teach out of Your law; That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity.
Reproofs for discipline are the way of life.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
We serve a tough love God: the only perfect Judge. Throughout the Bible, He warns us about the penalties for misconduct and injustice: 'Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows' (Galatians 6:7). Unforgiven sins will revisit us as surely as every Word of God is true.
'Whoever misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit' (Proverbs 28:10). 'His mischief will return upon his own head' (Psalm 7:16). That's the 'tough' part. But where is the love, and how does 'tough love' relate to self-denial?
If earth is a paradise lost to be found, we have a lot to learn--and two ways to learn it: the easier way or the hard way. The easier way is to obey God to our best ability--which means denying our selfish, foolish, or harmful desires.
We choose His right over our wrong and His good over our evil. It's not easy, but it is easier by far. We are not falling into the same pitfall over and over; we are moving forward in joy and under the protection of God.
The hard way is to suffer the consequences of selfishness. Whether it's obesity for overeating or debt for overspending. Whether it's a home torn by lust or a nation torn by arrogance. King David tripped over the latter two. God loved him nevertheless and forgave him all the more, but David and Israel suffered from his mistakes.
If you're wondering when all the perps will get their just desserts like the ultimate Law & Order, consider the depths of God's love. He sent His Son to suffer for our sins if we will only believe and receive Him... so God waits. We sin, we suffer, and still God waits for us to learn the ultimate lesson.
'The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance' (2 Peter 3:9). Because He 'Desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth' (1 Timothy 2:4).
That's a love so tough the jaws of hell can't break it.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Self-Denial series.