Grandmother and child.


“I hate you!” the young boy screamed at his grandmother who was attempting to correct his out of control behavior.

“But I love you,” the soft-voiced grandmother replied. Her grandson burst into repentant tears. Their close relationship was restored.

What if she had responded harshly? The situation might have gone something like this: “Well, I hate you, too,” an angry and hurt woman might have said. The boy’s anger would have increased with his hurt feelings. He might have cried, but the emotional distance would have grown greater. Each confrontation would continue to widen that distance. The relationship would deteriorate. Haven’t all of us seen or even been a part of a similar scene?

This grandmother had responded from her heart with a genuine love. She followed a principle that is found in the Bible. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV) Also, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing….” (I Peter 3:9 NIV)

Our heavenly Father follows this same principle with his human children. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV) See also Romans 2:4. “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.” (NI V)

God declares his love for us. It is a personal, parental love. He inspired the Apostle Peter to write: “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (II Peter 3:9b NIV)

God’s love is not loosely permissive. He disciplines those that accept his invitation to join his household. The writer of Hebrews encourages the children of God by saying that “the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:6 NIV) The writer also tells us that “God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.” (Hebrews 12:10 NIV)

God’s discipline is like the discipline of a music teacher or an athletic coach. The teacher or coach corrects the behavior that hinders the mastery of the instrument or the sport. God wants us to be masters of love, right living, and becoming like him.

The first step is restoring the relationship. We can’t learn from God if we ignore him or reject him. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church of God in Corinth: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” (II Corinthians 5:17-19a)

Not only did God take the first step towards restoring our relationship to him, he also calls on us to be a part of that reconciliation: “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for  us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Corinthians 5:19b-21)

God did not cause the broken relationship. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “It is your evil that has separated you from your God. Your sins cause him to turn away from you, so he does not hear you.”(Isaiah 59:2 NCV)

The Bible gives several definitions of sin: The Apostle John  wrote that “all wrongdoing is sin.” (I John 5:17 NIV) He also said that “sin is lawlessness.” (I John 3:4 NIV) The Apostle Paul wrote that “everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23b NIV) Some teach that Jesus nailed his Father’s law to the cross. Jesus actually nailed, metaphorically, the indictment against us for breaking his Father’s law. (Colossians 2:14)

Just like the boy’s wrongdoing put his relationship with his grandmother at risk, so our wrongdoing puts our relationship with God at risk. He has already taken the first step toward reconciling that broken relationship. Now it’s up to us to respond. We could ignore him or scream “I hate you!” and go on doing wrong leaving the relationship broken. God is saying, “I love you. Admit you are doing wrong. Turn back to me and learn from me. I will forgive you. I will teach you right doing.” Read I John 1:8-10 and Acts 2:37-41.

The response that will mend our broken relationship with God is a cry from the heart. “The sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit. God, you will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for sin.” (Psalm 51:17 NIV) Read all of Psalm 51 and make it your prayer. Do your part and turn back to the God who loves you.

By Scarlett Stough
June 30, 2001