You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own. (Lev. 20:26)

AS A CHILD, I have vivid memories of my parents skirting between looks of pride and disappointment. One particular phrase often graced my ears when I found myself being disobedient: “I brought you into this world, and I’ll take you out.” No, my parents weren’t abusive in any way, nor am I condoning abuse of any kind. But what seemed like harsh words or an over-exaggeration got my attention in my cultural context and awakened me to the reality of how serious they were about my behavior.

In today’s passage, we have the privilege of looking at harsh words God gave through the lens of the totality of Scripture, including the grace and truth found in Jesus’ ministry. However, God’s words to the Israelites are not to be diminished or taken out of context. This passage shows us that he has a zero tolerance of sin because as a loving Father he knows the impact our sin will have not only on us, but also our family and surrounding community.

Harsh words are sometimes needed to call us back to a place of holiness, a place of alignment with God’s truth, and maybe even a place where we need to put down the things our culture creates to comfort us, so we can pick up something our God celebrates to transform us.

Embrace harsh words to confront your own self-sabotage and promote healing.

Santes Beatty is director of multiethnic ministries for The Wesleyan Church.

 © 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.