Delayed (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13)

Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. Although a sinner does evil a hundred [times] and may lengthen his [life], still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.

Ecclesiastes 8:11-13

When I read verse eleven, I felt myself nodding in agreement and thinking, “Yeah, it’s all this delay to punish crimes that increases crime.” But this morning time between God and me is not for me to sit down and look for messages for others, but messages for me.

These verses are important. All Bible verses are important, but these hit me this morning. Is the premise true that failure to follow-through on punishment or delay in punishment encourages others to commit the same crime? My observation says that it is. But more, the apparent lack of punishment for sin encourages others to run headlong into the same sin.

I am becoming fairly open about the things from which God has delivered me and is still in the process of delivering me. But I did not just wake up one morning and think, “I should go commit fornication today.” The process whereby I descended to the place where I committed that transgression was a gradual series of compromises that involved sins that were not punished, or not punished in a way that I understood as such. It also involved seeing others who called themselves Christians doing the very same thing without being punished. Neither of these excuses the transgression, but they serve as part of the explanation of why these verses impact me as they do.

I saw nominal Christians involved in viewing pornography and nothing seemed to be happening to them. I saw the same type of person engaging in various sexual sins and saw no punishment or discipline forthcoming. The more I failed to see the discipline of God come to those who called themselves His children, the more I wondered if I could do the same things without fear of punishment or discipline. The short answer is: No.

What I never saw was the price that was paid: relationships destroyed; hearts broken; any sort of witness brought down in flames; a loss of integrity. The list is much longer than that. That, however, is the price of sin and transgression that is often invisible. While the discipline of God may seem to delay in coming, sometimes I think God is letting the full price be paid before He hands down His discipline. In the parable of the prodigal son, the wasteful son had to spend everything he had before he would return to his father. I do not think the parable was meant as a How To manual, but as an illustration. Sometimes, it takes total exhaustion of our every resource to bring us to a place of repentance. Sometimes we have to ruin ourselves before we will look for our Father’s help.

By the grace of God, I had not demolished everything before repenting. But that is a testament to His grace, not to anything in me. A rather large portion of the life I had built came crumbling down around m ears before I came to God.

The intangible benefits of peace with God are many and it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. But the cost of my wrongs is high and God will sometimes allow the consequences of my actions to set in before He disciplines. Truly it will not be well for the evil man.

The application of these verses boils down to: Fear God and obey His instruction without regard to whether or not those who disobey His voice are disciplined or punished while I look on. I know that discipline will come to such as belong to God and punishment is the ultimate destiny of those who reject Him entirely. Just because it is delayed does not mean it will not arrive.

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