The Lord rewards and punishes – right? (Zephaniah 1:12)

“At that time I will search through Jerusalem with lamps. I will punish the people who are entrenched in their sin, those who think to themselves, ‘The LORD neither rewards nor punishes.'” – Zephaniah 1:12 (NET)

Normally I don’t quote from the NET but I thought their translation of this particularly interesting.

To be honest, I’m not real sure what to make of this verse, the Lord will punish those who think, “The Lord neither rewards nor punishes.” That’s interesting. I definitely thing the Lord both rewards and punishes, but I’m nearly convinced its not system based on punishment per sin. As in, if do wrong the Lord will give me 3 horrible days. Or something like that.

My experience has never been so clear cut. There seem to be some wonderful people who have some horrible things happen to them and some horrible people who have everything work out right. That is, the Lords reward and punishment seems absent from many people’s lives at least in this world (I imagine such differences will be more noticeable in the next).

But then what I wonder about this is the Lord’s strange hand of favor in my life. The Lord has blessed me above and beyond my whole life. I’m married to a woman who had no business marrying me (she was WAY out of my league). I have a daughter who is far too well behaved to be paying me back for who I was as a child. I live in a wonderful place which was nearly handed to me as a gift and get to do my dream job. Did I mention life is pretty grand?

So when I think about all my blessings and I’m done giving thanks, I often quiver at the thought of why I’m so blessed. Have I done something to deserve this? Is that big tithe a few years back responsible? Is it because I followed the Lord’s call that He’s rewarding me? OR have I done nothing special and he’s just having grace for me. And if thats the case, He could take it away with as little reason as He’s given it. And that’s scary.

Anyhow. I just don’t know what I think about this. Sometimes when I look at how blessed I am I wonder if my friends and family who have suffered so much have done so because of something dark in their hearts or some horrible hidden sin and the Lord is punishing them. This idea doesn’t line up with my theology about this at all – but I can’t help but wonder.


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