Q: Does God punish us when we do something wrong? I’m beginning to think he does, although I always assumed he was kind and loving. I came from a Christian family, but I admit I turned my back on God once I left home, and now nothing is going right. — K.J.
A: If you deliberately put your hand on a hot stove you’ll get burned — but who (or what) is to blame? Is it the stove’s fault, or is it yours? You know the answer; you alone are to blame.
And in a far deeper way, this is what happens when we ignore God and deliberately turn against him. When we do something wrong, we eventually pay a price, and the reason is because this is the way God set up the world. Just as physical pain should teach us to stay away from hot stoves, so emotional or personal pain should teach us to stay away from wrongdoing, for both will harm us. The Bible warns, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. … Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction” (Galatians 6:7-8).
But why does God discipline us when we do wrong? Is it because he is an angry, vengeful judge who takes delight in seeing us suffer? No! God loves us, and he cares what happens to us, and he doesn’t want us to destroy our lives. What kind of parent would you be if you let your children do anything they wanted, no matter how dangerous or harmful?
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Don’t gamble with your future, and don’t gamble with your soul. Instead, turn back to Christ and give your life to him. Then let the Psalmist’s discovery become yours: “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
Write “My Answer,” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; or go to BillyGraham.org.