Respond to God’s Rebuke

WrathAt The Citadel it does no good to hang your head. If, as a first year cadet, you get corrected by an upperclassman, a hound dog expression is just going to draw more heat. You’re expected to fix the problem. If you can’t fix it by yourself, you’re expected to reach out to your classmates for their help. Self-pity just gets you more trouble. Continue it for very long and it’s a lot of trouble. The same is true with God.

  So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”  – 1 Samuel 3:18, ESV

Samuel, when he first heard from God, learned that God was upset at Eli and his sons. Eli’s sons were wicked. They were an abomination to the priesthood. Naturally, when Eli asked Samuel to repeat what the Lord revealed to the young boy, Samuel didn’t want to do so. However, Eli compelled him and Samuel gave him the pronouncement from God. Verse 18 is Eli’s response. Do you sense a hound dog expression on the part of Eli? Does it sound like he was resigned to his fate? It’s a tragedy that he was. The reason I say this is because in verses 19-21 we know some time passed as Samuel grew up. No word of punishment is found in those verses. In other words, Eli had time to try and correct things. My assumption, based on the fact God carried out his punishment (chapter 4) and because of Eli’s response when first told, is that Eli did nothing to change the situation.

Don’t do this. If God rebukes you, even if you feel additional punishment or consequences are on their way, deal with the issue. Correct your behavior. Try you best to make it right. Don’t resign yourself and say, like Eli, “Let Him do what seems good to Him.” We know from Scripture that upon receiving a rebuke, when the people have responded, God has typically relented. Look at how many times Moses intervened on behalf of the Israelites. Or look at how Nineveh repented when Jonah presented God’s message and how that generation was saved.

God may not relent. You may bear the full brunt of what is due you. However, don’t let this discourage you from trying to get back to doing what is right. We all fail to be perfectly obedient. We all sin. We all face the consequences of those failures. Until we enter heaven, that’s life. The key is how we respond to those failures, those sins. Do we step back and say, “Whatever is to come is to come,” or do we waive off the failure and say, “I’m covered by grace?” Both of those may be true. However, the point is to try and enter back into obedience. Therefore, our next steps should be to actively seek to become obedient again. We should not wait. When it’s something we’ve done wrong, that means changing our path, trying to correct what we’ve done wrong, and seeking God’s forgiveness. We should not resign ourselves to face His wrath without trying to get back into right relationship with Him. If He administers discipline, so be it, but He does so because He loves us. Let us show that we are loving children by trying to surrender to Him anew and accepting His Lordship over our lives. Let us renew our efforts to follow His commands. And let us not sit idly by as He rebukes us. Instead, let us attempt to be better for it, a step closer in sanctification, and more like the people He desires us to be.

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