And God loves me enough to punish you, too.
Sounds a little backwards, doesn’t it? If God loves you, why punish me? To me the answer is very simple to understand- God is just and true, dependable, and righteous. That means, despite how much He loves every one of us, He will do as He says He will do when it comes to the unrepentant and sinful at Judgment Day.
I get really sick to my stomach when I hear people who talk about God only in terms of His love. Yes, love is important, and yes, love is what we are to do to each other, and yes, God is love.
But He is also righteousness, He is also truth, He is also very hard to follow in a world that hates and rejects not just Him, but all those who follow Him. Yeshua said to follow Him we must give up everything that we have held dear, even those things that we were raised with, people we know and love, but are sinful . Sin is very comfortable and fits us like a glove, whereas righteousness needs an expert tailor to make it feel (at least) wearable. Love helps to overcome, but it doesn’t overcome everything.
I think the people who only want to talk about God as love, loving everyone and every single thing, and their discussion always comes down to how God loves us are probably enablers in their own lives. Love is not acceptance of wrongdoing; love is not acceptance of sin; love is not acceptance of improper behavior. Do you think Yeshua showed “love” when He made a whip of cords and drove out the businessmen from the Temple courts? Did they feel the love? And what about when God sent fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah? Or the fire that destroyed the (total of) 100 men who came after Elijah?
Or the death of Ananias and his wife Sapphira in Acts? And the way Yeshua talked to the Pharisees? Insulting them, calling them “white-washed sepulchers?” Was that a term of endearment?
God is totally just and His love is truly remarkable, but that isn’t all He is about. He is about zealousness for His laws, determination to live as He says and not as the world demands, and strength and honesty. God is not about lovey-dovey dreck: He is a strong and glorious God who is about truth, devotion, faithful obedience, and love. But love for what is right also makes Him a jealous and fearful God! God is love, all right, but not human “mamby-pampy everything is love, you are love, I am love, God is love, love love love, love is all you need” kind of love.
God is about the hard love that brings people into righteousness.
I accept God as my God, I accept Yeshua as the Messiah God sent to us, and I also accept that love is the keystone of salvation, but it is not the whole building. There is also the need for punishment for those who reject God. If we can’t trust God to punish the wicked, we can’t trust Him to reward the righteous. It’s that simple- God is totally binomial: right or wrong, truth or lie, just or unjust. If you notice, throughout the bible when God gives us a commandment, those who violate it first are punished most severely, and it seems that later on people catch a break. In Numbers we read how the man that gathered sticks on Shabbat, right after God said do not work, was stoned to death, but in Ezra’s day they bought and sold on Shabbat and no one was killed for it. Yes, it was a bit later, but God is the same today, tomorrow and yesterday, so His laws are just as important today and tomorrow as they were yesterday. God’s mercy, which comes from His love, prevented us from totally destroying ourselves. He gave us His laws and when we first violated them His punishment was swift and terrible, but as we continued to violate His laws His mercy showed (mercy from love) in His tolerance for our wrongdoing. But that didn’t stop Him from punishing Shomron and dispersing His people throughout the world, and it didn’t stop Him from destroying His own house and nearly destroying Judea.
The ultimate sign of His love was sending Yeshua, His only begotten Son, to die so that we can be absolved of our own sinfulness.
God’s love for us doesn’t override His punishment for those that don’t love Him back, and I don’t think that He expects us to allow sin in our lives or to accept sin from others. We are to be holy, meaning separated, from the society of the world. We are to hate the sin, and love the sinner. But not love them to the point where we accept what they do in the name of love- we are to reject the sinner who continues to sin. We are to ostracize those who sin, even our own brothers and sisters. Those who plow and look back are not fit for the kingdom of God, so said Yeshua, which means we must go forth and not cling to the past. Our past is sin, our present is grace, and our future is salvation- as long as we walk the walk.
Love is fine, love is good, and as Shaul said, without love, I/you/we are nothing. But love doesn’t conquer all: sin is not acceptable, ever. Love the people in your life, even though they are sinners, but make it clear that their sin is not acceptable and if they refuse to stop sinning in your presence, then vomit them out of your life. Not right away, not without trying to save them, and not every single one of them because even Believers sin. I can’t draw a line in the dirt for you telling you exactly when you should reject someone and when you keep trying to save them; you need to determine that on your own with the guidance of the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit.)
What I am trying to say is that love is fine and love is wonderful, but it may be the alpha and omega, but there is plenty of stuff in between, and we need to recognize all the factors that go into living a righteous life. If we want to live as Yeshua lived we need to understand this: It ain’t easy being Him!