I have a confession to make. It’s a very dark secret that few, except my wife, have known about.
Until now, of course.
Okay, here goesI am a hoarder.
No, not the kind featured on the television show, “Hoarders.” That’s the program featuring hapless people with a compulsive hoarding disorder, living in homes they can no longer traverse due to piles of old newspapers and magazines or boxes of gadgets that they will never use again.
I’m not one of them. In fact, if anything, I may lean more to the side of tossing things or giving things away that I later regret when I discover I could use them again. I delete emails with a passion and clean out the trash can in my computer.
I am not a neat freak, but I confess I am a hoarder. My treasure of choice, the one thing I tend to hoard, is dark chocolate. Mary keeps a well-stocked candy dish for our guests, especially grandkids and neighbor kids. Taking pride in my self-discipline as I do, I can walk casually past the candy dish hundreds of times, weeks in succession, and not feel a twinge of temptation. Occasionally, perhaps, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup tweaks my curiosity. But dark chocolate! It hasn’t got a chance of survival. I don’t eat it all in one setting. Of course not, it’s too valuable. Too precious to gorge in one passionate moment. No! Dark chocolate was meant to savor. Slowly savor each small bite one at a time.
As a result, I simply clean out the candy dish of the forbidden treat and store it safely in my small office in the master bedroom. (I can’t believe I’m confessing this.) There it will be safe from hungry eyes of every passerby until I choose to imbibe from my secret cache.
I realize, of course, that hoarding dark chocolate breaks no laws. It is not listed in Scripture among the forbidden fruits that tend to destroy one’s character. Dark chocolate is one of the “gifts” that God has created for our pleasure. I am convinced that to eat dark chocolate is to sense the pleasure of God. To taste of His goodness.
Yes, I admit I may be a bit selfish to hide dark chocolate in my desk. But I am not guilty of ignoring the hungry and homeless. I donate to charities that care for vulnerable people. So what is the problem with hoarding a few small bars of dark chocolate? None, in my way of thinking. I am not risking my health. Somewhere, I vaguely recall an article stating that chocolate was Nature’s health food. Dark chocolate with less sugar and milk is even better. (Who knows? It may be better for you than kale, tofu, or broccoli.)
So what is the moral of this dark story?
It’s a metaphor for something much more vital and a warning against something that truly does come with eternal risks. Imagine a universe-sized candy dish filled (pardon any apparent foolishness, but I am not trying to dishonor the Creator) with God’s attributes. Sweet tasting characteristics such as grace, mercy, love, patience, kindness, forgiveness and scores more lie there for us to enjoy and to experience in their fullness. We all love each of these attributes. We sing about them. Pray and give thanks for them. Sometimes we may even try to gorge ourselves with them. But we can never empty the bowl. Not in a trillion years.
But do we sometimes deliberately ignore, or worse yet, deny the more severe attributes such as His wrath, justice or His jealous love that is offended when we share our love with lesser deities?
God’s attributes are not all sweet, succulent flavors. Scattered among them are attributes that are harsher, even bitter to swallow. Paul said it this way in Romans 11:22: “Behold, the kindness and the severity of God!”
We cannot pick and choose between kindness and severity. To do so dishonors God. In fact, it results in creating a lesser deity, an idol of our own creation. It is not YAHWEH. Our idol god may not be carved out of a block of wood or chiseled from stone and gilded with gold, but it is not the One, true, living God of Scripture. It is an insult against God’s character and nature. It is also dangerous.
I wonder, are we in our politically-correct and culturally-acceptable worship services picking and choosing our favorite flavor of God? Do we even talk about His wrath? Impending judgment? Hell? Are we telling “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” about God? (As if we in our feebleness could ever comprehend the whole truth about such a One as God.)
Turning my original story about hoarding dark chocolate around, are we deliberately hoarding by simply hiding the uncomfortable truths about God today? To do so not only cheapens grace, it dilutes it beyond recognition. It becomes little more than a five-letter word (rhyming with face and place) we like to sing about.
Here’s the truth: No wrath and no justice equals no grace. No mercy.
It doesn’t get any darker than that.