When have you learned more from the consequences of your actions than the judgment of others?
When Nancy and I were raising our children, one of our parenting techniques was “logical consequences.” That meant that if our son made a mess of his room, he would have to live in the clutter until he picked it up himself. If our daughter missed the car pool to school, she would have to visit the principal.
Yes, I know that last consequence sounds harsh. But as a second-grader our daughter struggled with picking out socks, and I told her one day that if she missed the car pool, I would call the principal. She thought I was bluffing, so she took her time and missed the car pool. I said that I would drive her, but only after I called the school. The blood drained out of her face.
I marched her into school and we went straight to the office. The principal sat her down and told her firmly but kindly that she needed to get dressed in time for the car pool. Our daughter was mortified, and we never had the sock problem again. Logical consequences.
The sixth chapter of the Book of Revelation tells of the opening of seals on a scroll held by Jesus, the Lamb of God. When the first four seals are opened, riders on horses appear — “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” These riders represent the reality of destruction in the world, the logical consequence of conquest, warfare and famine. Their appearance raises the question of why a merciful God would allow suffering and affliction.
The very same question is raised by the souls of the martyrs buried under the altar, as the fifth seal is opened: “Holy and true Master, how long will you wait before you pass judgment? How long before you require justice for our blood, which was shed by those who live on earth?” (Revelation 6:10).
These questions continue to resonate with us today, since no one likes justice to be delayed. But Revelation reports that the faithful martyrs are told to rest and wait a little longer, “until their fellow servants and brothers and sisters — who were about to be killed as they were — were finished” (verse 11). The martyrs are forced to wait longer for justice, while additional believers die.
Perhaps God is trying to teach us lessons through logical consequences. Conquest, warfare and famine will continue to cause destruction until we learn the ways of peace and generosity. Innocent people will die in the streets until we begin to see every person as a precious child of God. Even the deaths of martyrs have logical consequences, in that their sacrifices can inspire others to change their hearts and lives. Like a good parent, God allows time for people to make the right choice, even if a delay in justice causes hardship for righteous people of faith.
Prayer: Holy Judge, help me to see the consequences of my actions, and to make faithful choices. Amen.