the punishment

“What shall we say then?  Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust but except the law had said, thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:7)

In Togo I searched for a centrally located village that was accessible to many rural communities to provide health care.  Local people pointed me toward one village claiming it was the safest place to live.  The chief showed me the community, and I had peace in my heart until he explained why.

He beamed from ear to ear. “You will like our place.  It is free of crime, and we have no thieves. About five years ago an evildoer came to our village and stole a goat, so we beat him to death.”

I gasped and covered my mouth in shock.

“And since that time, no thief has ever returned to our village.”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to move into a place where crimes were punished so harshly, but I needed a safe place to live.

On the day I moved into my three-room mud house, my assistant needed some items at the market. Since I wanted to see the shopping place I suggested we go together.

“Wait just a minute, while I lock up all your things.” She plucked six banana leaves and arranged them on top of my pile of suitcases. Then she put a rock on top of the leaves. “Your things are properly locked and quite safe.”

I stared at everything supposedly protected with a rock and banana leaves and couldn’t believe all my possessions would be safe. Nevertheless, my assistant and I went to the market and returned two hours later.  Everything was as we had left it.

 She smiled.  “You can see how strong our bush locks are.”

 The rock and leaves only symbolized a packlock, and they weren’t strong. But they represented a terrible punishment. If someone had taken my things, he could have been beaten to death. With such a  drastic consequence for stealing, no one dared take anything.

I lived in that completely safe village until the suburbs of the nearby city extended into our community. Unfortunately the crime in the metropolis was so rampant, it overflowed into our village.

If I knew all the consequences of my decisions and actions before I did them, I might reconsider. But with God we can know the results of our sinful behavior and unbelief. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:23 

We can ask forgiveness and turn away from our sins with God’s help and spend eternity in heaven. So maybe laws aren’t really so bad if they keep us on the right path and lead to eternal life.


Have a great week and please join me again next Saturday.



About celestecharlene

I served as a medical missionary in West Africa for thirty years treating the sick and establishing health clinics in rural neglected areas.
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