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Eating the Bundt Cake

Eating the Bundt Cake

“So now take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do with you.” Therefore the people of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward. Exodus 33:5-6

Our dog, like any dog, prefers human food to his brown kibble. He begs, but he’s generally not aggressive in stealing food. Once though, while we were gone, he somehow got his head up over the counter edge to gnaw on a bundt cake, eating half of it. When we got home, I held the rest of the cake up in front of him, asking – What did you do? He looked everywhere but at me or the cake, pretending that nothing had happened. This was a little infuriating. Finally, I was able to make him look at me and at his handiwork. His ears drooped and he hung his head, and I knew that I’d gotten through to him. His remorseful expression was what I needed to see to know that he recognized his crime. I needed to observe sorrow and regret.

We do the same with each other. When in some position of authority over others and we must provide some constructive criticism, it’s troubling when a subordinate argues with the corrective action. I need to know that you to understand that your behavior must change. We don’t need to see weeping and gnashing of teeth, but we need to know that those for whom we’re responsible recognize their error and are willing to correct it. If they insist on acting as if nothing is wrong, then we know that the problem isn’t fixable. Then, more drastic action is required.

This is similar to God’s posture with his people in today’s passage. In the story, after the golden calf incident, God was angry with the Israelites and demanded that they divest themselves of their gold and jewels. Mourning their sin meant removing all extravagant dress, wearing only humble clothing. Up to this point, God had not seen any contrition and now, he demanded some signs of remorse. God knew what we inherently know. If there’s no regret for a toxic behavior, that behavior is never going to change.

As Christians, we know that our sins are forgiven by God. Going our own way though, still distances us from him. Evil is still self-destructive, even if it’s eternally pardoned. We’re not to wallow in guilt, but we are meant to mourn our failures. If, when we fall, we pretend that nothing happened, then nothing is ever going to change. So, God desires that we grieve our sin, and that we repent from it. Being sorry doesn’t instantly change bad behavior, but our self-destruction will never stop if we’re not first sorry for it.

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