Monday, July 16, 2012

Does God Benefit from Our Suffering?

Ten Commandments
Ten Commandments (Photo credit: glen edelson)
I will state my answer to the question at the beginning:  No!  I don't believe God takes any pleasure or gets any advantage from the suffering of his believers.  He goes to great extremes to tell us not to do that that cause us pain.  The Ten Commandments and the injunctions against sinful behaviors are all ways in which he tries to steer us away from things that he knows will cause us pain, but when we engage in behaviors that he has warned us against, we shouldn't be surprised if there are negative consequences.

The things God forbids are things that destroy us.  You may think the lying won't hurt you because the lie is about someone else or a distant event, but lies have a way of coming back to bite you.  Lying is a difficult sin to deal with because your life, your friends, your job are all based on your words.  When those words are lies, there is no longer a framework to build on.  Cain lied to God when he was questioned about his brother Abel.  Funny thing about truth:  It will come to light, even in the darkest places.  Cain's sin began with a murder, but lying about it only compounded the sin.  It did not lessen the judgment.

What about my sins?  Do I lie to protect my name or my reputation?  It's an election year, and I am convinced that most of the political rhetoric I will hear will be a lie.  Lying doesn't protect anything.  My name and my reputation are already established, and the lie to protect myself will only add to the rubble.  God will not be fooled and nobody else will either.
The best advice about lying comes from Shakespeare.  Polonius tells his son Laertes  in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3:  "To thine own self be true, and it shall follow as night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."  The advise was better than the man.  Polonius was a conspirator against Hamlet, and both he and Laertes paid with their lives.  Good advice is cheap.  Living a good life is demanding and difficult, but it's easier if you don't lie to yourself or others.

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