From a young age my family always encouraged me to read. Without fail, I received at least one book in addition to other presents every birthday or Christmas morning. My favorite books to read as a child were in a series called The Great Brain. These novels, set in late nineteenth-century Utah, told the stories of a smart (and crooked) pre-teen boy named Tom as related by his brother J.D.
In one of the books in this series, Tom is sent off to a boarding school, and J.D. is left for a year to live life without bearing witness to the many scams perpetrated by his brother. During this year, J.D.’s family ends up adopting another boy named Frankie after his parents were killed.
Frankie causes much trouble at first. Yet the family does not punish him because of his tragic circumstances. Finally, J.D. spanks Frankie for crossing the line of tolerable behavior. The way in which the punishment is described makes the reader feel as if justice has been done, and it is easy to share J.D.’s satisfaction.
There is a certain degree in which we all relish seeing wrongdoing and wrongdoers get a deserved punishment. If this were not so, then there could be no market for stories of heroes who save the day and villains who meet their end. This is only logical, of course. After all, we are made in the image of the One who is perfectly just Himself. And unlike human beings, our Lord always metes out His judgments with righteousness. Jacob’s life is one of the best testimonies to this truth. This sneaky son of Isaac thought he could get away with his lies (Gen. 27), but in the end he too received God’s justice. His folly does not go unpunished, and, as we will see this month, he gets his come-uppance in due time.
We do not like to hear it, but God makes sure to execute His justice on all men, be they inside or outside the kingdom. But since His full wrath on His people has already been poured out on Christ, the chastisement believers see in this life is given only to discipline us and ensure that we persevere. At times we only learn the hard way, and the Lord is not hesitant to do what is necessary to make us learn.
When justice is served, let us remember God’s good purposes in our lives. Moreover, let us look for His just discipline daily, so that we may produce the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:11).