My daughter's description of God as "forgiving but not indulgent"

I am writing this post partly to brag on my kid, but also because what she said is truly thought provoking. Lauren is 16 now, and this is the first time she has attended one of my Sunday school classes. The class is on "Five Core Truths", or five core areas of Christian theology we all need to be familiar with - Bible, Jesus, God, salvation, and heaven. There are other important areas in theology, but I had a five-week window, so I made it five core truths instead of a different number.

This past weekend we were talking about God's character, and Lauren came out with a comment that is a keeper -- God is "forgiving but not indulgent." This makes me think of how God describes himself to Moses in Ex 34...

5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."
Notice the complexity of God's character. He is not simply vengeful, is he? His identity is centered around being compassionate, gracious, and forgiving. Instead of being the God with a hair trigger who is quick to anger, as so many suppose him to be, he is "slow to anger." Yet he is not simply a pushover either. He will not leave rebellion and guilt unpunished. Thus, in the character of God, all these qualities are combined -- compassion, grace, love, forgiveness, and justice. To simplify God down to either forgiveness or justice alone is to cease to tell the truth about him.
He is indeed a God who is "forgiving but not indulgent."


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