When you see people all around you doing all sorts of things and getting away with it, you wonder if there’s justice and fair play in the world. They seem to be living like there are no consequences to their actions. Something is just not quite right with this picture.
Will such people always get away with it? I think not. It’s inbuilt in life that our mistakes and shortcomings catch up with us at some point. When they catch up with us, those with integrity face the consequences and grow to become better people. Those who weasel their way out will leave the consequences for others to clean up. That isn’t fair, is it?
Those who think they are spared the consequences of their actions are usually in denial. They won’t face the music. If there are people around them to tell them of the state they are in, they are lucky — if they listen and act accordingly. By doing so, they very likely avert a worse scenario. That’s the way of life.
Facing the consequences is a form of discipline and the Bible teaches the benefit of it. (And, I’m in a preachy mood today, so here goes …!) Hebrews 12:5-11 talks about the value of discipline and how God disciplines those he loves because he regards us as his sons and daughters. As Christians, if we really love God, we will understand that his discipline of us is an act of love and, out of reciprocal love, we will submit to his discipline. We won’t argue with him that it is not meant for us, it’s a mistake, we don’t deserve it, we didn’t do anything wrong (we say this when we can’t see our blind spot), why me when others are getting away with it, etc, etc. There is no point in resisting; all we have to do is just submit to his discipline, which is to assume responsibility for what we have done and face the music.
This is especially true in doing the “right thing”. Sometimes, in doing the right thing, we go against the grain and there will be consequences. Whatever the consequences, we need to face them. It’s a discipline that builds us up.
I don’t think God disciplines because he gets a thrill from it or because it is his nature to punish us for our failings. I believe he disciplines to achieve a desired outcome that fits into his scheme of things which we may not know much about. That desired outcome includes improving the individual by the discipline of dealing with consequences.
And, hence, we come to what for me is one of the most encouraging verses in Scripture — Heb 12:11 which states: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Our actions have consequences, even when we mean well. By facing the consequences, we become better people and enjoy a peace that really passes all understanding (Phil 4: 6-7). That peace is something we should desire and it comes when we go through the pain of facing the music.
So, when we have to do the right thing or something we feel God is saying — even when it’s painful — we do it because we know we are loved and at the end of it we’ll enjoy a peace that blesses. That is God’s discipline and only good comes from it. If good follows discipline, then, we can safely assume, by submitting to discipline we avert a worse outcome.