Truth and Consequences
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7 NIV)
The other night, I was watching a round-table discussion about the fate of Michael Vick. If, somehow, you’ve been able to avoid all forms of media for the last few weeks, Vick, once the gifted quarterback for the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons, will be in jail for the next few years because of his part in a violent dog-fighting network.
But lest we get sidetracked by lesser matters, let’s agree up front that our conversation here isn’t about Michael Vick; it’s about forgiveness.
One of the participants in the roundtable discussion said he told Vick, who is his friend, that (paraphrasing), “If Jesus is your Lord and you really believe in him, and if you’ve asked him for forgiveness, then you are forgiven. He has fully forgiven you.”
As we say in the South, that’ll preach! It lines right up with 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (NIV)
But then the gentleman went on to say that if Vick continued to walk in righteousness, because God had fully forgiven him, all the things taken away from the athlete – his NFL career, his millions, his stardom, his credibility – would be returned to him two-fold.
Certainly, that’s a comforting and encouraging thought for anyone in the middle of a mess, particularly one as monumental and public as the one Vick is in.
But it’s not a biblical thought.
Forgiveness is not a contract with God, as in, “You forgive me and I get my old life back.” Forgiveness is God’s choice; it emerges from his infinite love. He paid a bloody, costly price to forgive you, even as you were still steeped in sin.
God will forgive you, but that doesn’t mean he’ll remove the consequences of your sin.
I remember my father telling me that on the day I told him my girlfriend was pregnant. The Holy Spirit reached deep into my memory and pulled from its recesses the verse: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7 NIV)
God forgives us of our sins, but that doesn’t mean we won’t reap what we sow: the crisis pregnancy remains, or the prosecution still takes place, or the job is lost, or the death occurs.
Sometimes, like in the case of Jacob, the consequence, his limp, becomes a trophy of grace, a constant reminder of God’s love, forgiveness, and sovereignty (Genesis 32).
Oswald Chambers describes God as the “Great Engineer,” who is much more interested in the eternal consequences of our decisions than he is in such temporary matters as where we work, how we look, or what we can keep hidden. In other words, he’s more concerned about your character than your good name, your status, or your ability to play football better than any of his other creations.
As the Great Engineer, he may even engineer circumstances to bring you back into his arms, back to the truth, back to the point where you recognize that eternal consequences are the only ones that matter. (Consider Jeremiah 1:11-19.)
Michael Vick, after telling the press his ordeal had led him to receive Christ as his Savior, said God was more interested in Michael Vick the man than he was in Michael Vick the football player. Amen, brother.
When considering the colossal, earthly losses of Vick – the height from which he fell – is it conceivable that those losses are minor when compared to God losing a beloved child like Vick? Or that those losses are minor to Vick when he allows the truth of God to take deep root within him: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37 NKJV)
Michael Vick is worth more to God than any NFL contract, more than temporary fame or man-measured glory.
And if that’s true for Michael Vick, then that’s true for you, too. You are worth more to God than all the contracts in the NFL, and you are worth more to God than the sins you commit. He stands ready to forgive and, in the light of eternity, the consequences you fear may be less significant than you think.
· Really forgiven? – Do you believe God has truly forgiven you? If not, ask him why you feel this way. Perhaps there is more you need to address, regarding your sin. Or perhaps it is a sign you’re struggling to believe God’s truth: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)
· God engineers – If you’re in the midst of a crisis – or just a blessed mess – consider if it was engineered by God to bring you back to him or redirect your life. Look at Jeremiah 1:11-19 and consider why God allowed hardship to overtake
· Remember God’s father heart – “… But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’” (Luke 15:20-24 NIV)
· Pray for Michael Vick – Pray that the Christ-seed within him will grow into a mighty Jesus-tree, that he will stay committed to Christ, and that Vick will emerge from this crisis as a faithful voice for the glory of God. “Have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!”
© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.