Our God is unbalanced — and thank God for that!

Devotional thoughts for November 2020

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... where I discuss the thinking that led to this article.)

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Deuteronomy 5:8–10, NIV)

God describes himself as “a jealous God” — and I’m good with that. People often confuse jealousy with envy, though, and this is the perfect example of why they should not: envy is sin… but people can only envy what they do not have. So God is definitely not envious! But he is jealous — and jealousy is appropriate! Only a person who loves can be jealous, so the fact that God describes himself in these terms shows us that he loves us. When we, the object of his affections, turn our eyes (hearts) toward other gods, jealousy on God’s part is appropriate.

God often described Israel as an unfaithful wife. He even had his prophet Hosea marry a promiscuous woman so he could demonstrate the hurt that he felt when his people started worshiping idols. He did indeed punish these people — often to the third and fourth generation. But he loves to a thousand generations the people who show love for him by keeping his commandments. In this, God is “out of balance” … but he is out of balance in our favor — and I’m good with that!

Jesus picked up on this theme. He said if we love him, we will keep his commandments (John 14:15). What this shows us is that love is not a feeling; it involves feeling, but love is an action, and the love of Jesus requires two things. First, a person must investigate Jesus’ commandments to understand what he’s talking about. Second, he has to obey them. Note, however, that the lover of Jesus doesn’t have to “feel” anything to accomplish these objectives. Feelings will occur… but these should be the byproduct and not the driver.

There is an unfortunate number of people who are spending their lives doing what they think Jesus wants them to do — but who are way off the mark! Doing things in “Jesus’ name” is not enough. You must be doing what Jesus wants to be done, or else you are wasting your time. In fact, you don’t even get a “Nice try!” from Jesus. You only get, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Now, God doesn’t want much here: don’t worship idols! That sounds pretty easy. But the Jews did this continuously and God punished them generationally. We members of the Church are not off the hook either. We worship plenty of idols! They are usually not carved images, though; it’s often our success and possessions. But the result is the same: punishment — for us and our children — when within our reach are blessings for a thousand generations.

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20201026 I thank God that our God is unbalanced).

(For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)