Woe to You
Luke 10: 12 | By Rev Bob Boersma
I was blessed to grow up with a dad who LOVED his eight kids very well. We adored having him around and he delighted in us. His love gave us broad boundaries of freedom to enjoy life, and enjoy life we did. However, because he loved us well, he did have firm boundaries. His love would not tolerate words, actions, or attitudes that were disrespecting and/or damaging to others or our family. We always knew when we crossed his boundaries because the look on his face was plain. He didn’t have to say a word, but we knew there was impending doom. Trust me, the doom came. His look said “Woe to you Bob.” I saw it more than a few times and I hated that look, but looking back it was one of the best gifts my Dad gave us. He loved us too much to let us disrespect and damage others or ourselves.
“Woe to you” is a warning found throughout God’s word. It is found often in the prophets as God addressed his people and the nations around them. It is found in Revelation as God speaks of what is now and what is to come. Jesus often uses it in the gospels. It has the force of my Dad’s look to his kids. It doesn’t feel like love, but it comes from a heart of love. God loves us too much to let us disrespect and damage others or ourselves. He loves us too much to let us to wander down a path of destruction and not warn us. There is an impending doom and it will come.
We don’t like the word “woe.” Our culture, and an increasing part of our own hearts, wants to reject it and its negative feeling. It doesn't want to hear its promise of impending doom. More and more people proclaim, “Surely a God who loves us would never bring judgment on people.” We don’t have to like the warning anymore than I did my Dad’s look, but we need to feel and understand the love behind it. We need to feel and understand the weight of human sinfulness and the doom it deserves and will receive. Yes, love has broad boundaries of grace and freedom to live life. It is what Jesus comes to model and offer—“life and life to the full!” (John 10:10) but love has firm boundaries and Jesus' message has a “woe” of impending doom. We can hate that word, but it is one of the God’s best gifts. He loves us too much to let us and those around us live without his love forever.
And may the significance of this word “woe” motivate our love to boldly share not only the hard “woe,” but also wonderful grace of the gospel.
We are sent so let us go with love in our hearts. If there is no love we can’t say “woe” well at all. It will feel like self righteousness. However, God’s love is in us, so we can go. Go with the significance of this word “woe,” and may it motivate our love to share both the hard “woe,” and the wonderful grace of the gospel.
Heavenly Father, may the significance of this word “woe” motivate me to share boldly your truth while also putting your grace on display so it reveals good news to those you call me to love. In Jesus name, Amen.
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