Is God a God of Retribution?
Somehow, by some sinister way, there has been a doctrine propagated by religion that says: If I am faithful God will be faithful to me… If I do this, God will do that to me… If I serve him, then my business is going to prosper… if I tithe, I will be blessed of God… The doctrine of “Divine Retribution” is the idea that God will return vengeance or justice for wrong-doing. In short, God punishes sin. In simplistic terms, divine retribution sees all negative situations as God’s punishment, and all positive situations as God’s blessings.
Retribution is defined as recompense for merits. Sadly many of us approach God’s faithfulness with the mindset of self-righteousness and retribution. We fear that something will happen to the things that we love the most, and so we stand on God’s side only to be blessed in everything. The truth is that if we love God above everything else then He will take care of the rest. We are not in relationship with Him because we want to be blessed; but because we love Him. A lot of people, serve God because they fear suffering, they fear losing their possessions, these people don’t have their hearts fixed on God, and their love is on the material things.
When we serve God only because He can bless everything that we own and do, then what we are really doing is trying to manipulate God for the good of the things that we love. But God is not interested in that, He wants us to love Him because of Who He is and wants a love relationship with us, not because of everything that He give us. The doctrine of retribution says that God is only faithful when we are faithful to Him. This means that God’s faithfulness is limited to our own capabilities of being faithful. If this were true God would never be faithful to us. God can never be unfaithful!
The Bible says in 2Tim 2:13 that even when we are unfaithful God remains faithful, because faithful is Who He is, not just merely something that He does. God would still be called faithful even if we had never been created. We are the object of God’s faithfulness, and what we give back to Him is gratitude, thankfulness and love. God is faithful to us based on the completeness of what Jesus has done, as His righteousness is imputed in us by God’s grace. Thus our faithfulness is because of God has already done, not merely because of what He will do.
Jesus came to set us free from the bondage of the fear-inspired and performance-based religion. The burden of life under the yoke of the Lord Jesus becomes light and when our living life is gratitude and thankfulness for His love and grace. When we understand that then, we’ll be able to declare the words of Habakkuk 3:17-18, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
May we grow to understand that God’s nature in unchangeable (despite what we do or not do), Jesus’ work was complete, and we can rely only on His righteousness, His love and His grace. God’s love and care for us is, and will always be, based on the obedience of His only Son that bore the cross for us. Because we disobey does not diminish His love for us one iota, we think it does because we distance ourselves from God instead of running to His open arms of love and forgiveness!