Immediate Reward and Punishment


That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:45)


“None of the righteous has obtained a reward quickly, but waits for it; for if God should pay the recompense of the righteous speedily, we should immediately be training ourselves in commerce and not in godliness; for we should seem to be righteous when we were pursuing not piety but gain.” (II Clement XX, 3, 4.)

Is it not true of the wicked also? Were the wicked to be immediately punished for their deeds, then they would learn to be righteous, not for the sake of righteousness itself; rather to avoid the immediate punishment, thus losing our free will.

“But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by obedience to God.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 4.)

“God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man, while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured in immortality.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 15,2.)

“The commandments given to man may be viewed as questions because man is free. I obey not because I must but because I will. The Lord wants me, even me, to be his companion. ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’ (Amos 3:3.) As I hearken and obey, as I quickly respond, I show my desire to be in agreement with Him.” (Rasmussen, Dennis, The Lord’s Question, 7.)

If God were to reward or punish immediately, there would be no room for development; and after all, is that not why were are here in the first place?




And he [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

There is really only one true way that we are equal. We all sin, we all fall short, and therefore we all need Jesus Christ who atoned for those sins. That is the great equalizer. That is the reason I cannot ever think I am better than anyone else. No matter what the situation is, no matter who the person is, we have this commonality between us. This knowledge is the great unifying force.

I firmly believe that knowing we are all in need of Jesus Christ is the foundation to peace. This will stop the divisiveness that exists because we think we know more than the next guy. Simply acknowledging that we are equal partners in Christ will allow us to humbly search for truth, dutifully stand up for our beliefs, reverently discuss our differences, and respect the free will of others who disagree. To me, that is where equality begins and ends.

As C.S. Lewis puts it: “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.” (The Weight of Glory.)

Does this mean that we don’t have any differences between us? Of course not. Does it mean we won’t have disagreements? How boring. What this does mean is that we can get along and encourage each other despite any perceived conflict. In other words, we can discuss and share ideas with each other from a place of strength. We will know when we speak to each other we are coming from a position of love and respect. That is what puts us on equal footing.

So, it is turning to the Lord that creates equality: “Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal?” (Ezk 18:25) How can it be otherwise? “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor 15:21,22)

“ is to expiate this sin that Jesus Christ came to the world. His soul, created from the beginning with the other spirits, alone remained absolutely faithful to God.” (Origen, Tixeront, Historire des Dogmes, Vol. 1, p. 313. As quoted by James Barker, Apostasy from the Divine Church, p. 49.)

“Thoughts and Prayers”


“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer.”

― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces


With the most recent tragedies, I have noticed an increased attack on anyone offering their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims. Accusations abound how “thoughts and prayers” are useless; after all, we need people of action! The implication being that thought and prayer are not sufficient action, nor are you doing anything else besides offering them. The second implication may or may not be true. It begs the questions: What action do you take when responding to tragedy? What is an appropriate response?

Action is an ambiguous term that can only be defined by each individual. There are numerous ways to respond to a tragedy, some helpful and some not so helpful, but what if the response is simply sending “thoughts and prayers?” Where does this fall in the spectrum and why is it being attacked? I believe it is a larger problem – a country who is pushing further away from God: “for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.” (Isaiah 5:25)

35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:35-40)


When tragedy happens, there are numerous responses: You can choose to be angry; you can choose to help by donating time, material, blood etc. You can shout to your political leaders to act; You can argue on social media; you can offer your thoughts and prayers; you can even do all of these things combined. Some of these responses may be helpful, some harmful, but all of them are responses that we choose. What is the best way to respond depends on so many factors, but I argue that most important must be to first offer your thoughts and prayers.

It can be easy to forget the first law, which is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Is not sending thoughts and prayers a way to recognize God? If we truly believe that there is a God in heaven, and I do, then doesn’t it make perfect sense to ask for divine help first? What is wrong with an acknowledgement that the tragedy is bigger than all of us? That we need God’s grace to help comfort those who are suffering, because we can’t do it all by ourselves? What better way to show love and appreciation for both God and our fellow man? We do this by first recognizing God and His merciful hand as our foundation. I say foundation because that is not, nor should it be, the end of action, but the beginning. Remember the second law is to love our neighbor.

What happens if circumstances dictate that I cannot donate money, because I am poor? Is it enough to say in my heart that I would give if I had? Would it be enough if instead of donating money, because I do not have, I see a neighbor who just had surgery and I mow their lawn? Is that an appropriate response to a tragedy? Is it enough?

Is it enough if a tragedy leads us to be kinder to others? How about if I simply tell someone that they are awesome? Again, is it enough? or do you want more? I believe this is the point of the Gospels and why we must first recognize God. When acts lead us to God, they lead us to be better to each other, to stop arguing with each other, to stop hating each other, and that is why I believe “thoughts and prayers” are the best response.

So, what are we really arguing about? Well, the truth is we don’t want anything to do with God. We would rather argue and be divisive, because we are angry. We don’t know how to process these things so we blame, not the evil, but God. We ask our political leaders to save us and we want to be right. No matter what, we must be right. Our side would have prevented this, if only the others would listen! So, we attack “thoughts and prayers” because we think we don’t need God, we just need us. We need our response, because it does something! Well, so does “thoughts and prayers” and which response unites and which one divides?




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