Russ Ray

Trying to become more like Jesus

Gonna teach ’em a lesson

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But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.—2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

Which of these sounds like the most likely scenario?

  • The kids have had trouble going to sleep lately. They won’t stay in bed, and they won’t obey when you tell them it’s time to go to bed. I guess I’m going to have to discipline them to teach them a lesson.
  • There is someone at work who conducts some twice-weekly grooming exercises. It’s disturbing and gross to hear the sound of CLIP CLIP CLIP with the fingernails every couple of days, so an anonymous note was left on the perpetrator’s desk to teach them a lesson.
  • I forgot to do something around the house, and my wife is nagging me again to get it done. I’m tired of hearing the nagging, so when she brings it up again I ‘m going to dredge up a recent failure of hers to deflect the blame. That will teach her a lesson.
  • I have a coworker who constantly leaves their computer open and unlocked at work. It drives me nuts, not only because anyone walking by can get access to the company network and her personal stuff, but it’s also not responsible or best practice. When it happens again, I’ve thought about getting on there and sending a fake email to their boss to teach them a lesson.
  • I’ve stumbled again. I know that God is unhappy with me. I’m sure He wants to punish me to teach me a lesson. Something will break. We will be out of money. Somebody will get sick. Somebody will find out. He wants to shame me to teach me a lesson.

Some of these scenarios bear some truth. Some are things I’ve heard about people doing. One of them is something I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve considered doing.

The problem is that when you set out to teach somebody “a lesson”, it’s usually the wrong lesson. You’re teaching obedience through fear, compliance through shame, or acquiescence through guilt.

Thankfully, God does not deal with us that way. I do believe that when we are straying from the path we are walking, he may use circumstances to get our attention back to where it should be. I don’t think he’s doing it to be punitive or vindictive. After all, what then is mercy for?

God wants us to come back to Him, not drive us away. But when you’re afraid, you hide. When you’re shamed, you avoid. When you’re guilty, you’re imprisoned.

If we’re going to teach anybody a lesson, the lesson we should teach is grace. Grace heals. Grace restores. Grace reunites. What lessons are you teaching others through your walk today?

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