“'You get what you deserve’ is in there [the Bible] somewhere, isn’t it?”
The little gal in small group was attempting to explain away her understanding that when things go wrong, it’s divine retribution for stuff she’s done or is doing. …That she’s being punished, in a small way, for her sins. So, when anything has gone awry, it’s because she messed up somewhere lately, and God’s making her pay for it. She thought that was Biblical, though she wasn’t sure where it might be.
A bunch of us tried to console her and encourage her that trials and stuff-that-goes-wrong is just part of living in a sin-baked world. Christians don’t get a “get out of trouble, free” card. In my blunt, insensitive-guy fashion I suggested “what we deserve was death.” THAT’S the Biblical truth. The moment passed on, and we didn’t really get to unraveling the issue with her—sadly.
Even today, quite a while later, her comments troubled me, because she sees God as some sort of divine policeman, issuing citations for minor infractions. She lives in fear and guilt and frustration. And I thought “that’s not my image of God, nor do I think that’s the Biblical image of God!” But, how to encourage her…? How to encourage others who might be thinking that way?
The truth is we do NOT get what we deserve.
As I told her, the wages of sin is death! (Rom 6:23)
If we were REALLY to get what we deserve, God would have taken me out of the picture long ago. In contrast, as I was considering this post and this subject, I just “happened” to run across this Psalm: He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
(Ps 103:10). In fact, this is the famous Psalm where the Lord tells us: as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Sweet! As far as God is concerned, for a believer, our sins are gone! Poof! If you picture God as a divine traffic cop, embrace the truths in Psalm 103!
I’d want to encourage her, and anyone else who sees God as a divine cop, that when we trusted Christ, all our sins were paid for. Now, when God looks at us, he not only sees a spiritually clean individual, but he sees us with Christ’s righteousness: For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)
Sure, there IS the reality that when we sin, there may be consequences. Smart off to your boss, and you might get fired. Be harsh with people and you might lose friends. Sleep around and you might get STDs, etc. But that was different than what she was describing. She thought a flat tire stemmed from a critical thought, a cold, from impure thoughts, a dead washing machine from swearing when she stubbed her toe. God doesn’t work like that! There’s no Biblical basis for that kind of thinking.
Consider, instead, God’s grace to us. Most of us have never contracted herpes or gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Foolishly driving half-asleep, we’ve avoided accidents that should have been a disaster. We’ve put ourselves under the influence of drugs/alcohol and yet escaped harm. We’ve got a roof over our heads, a car that seems to keep going, and employment even in a nasty economy. We don’t live in a barrio in Mexico, weren’t put in WWII wartime Germany, our land is not suffering from plague or drought (much), we don’t live in fear because of our faith…I could go on. We’ve gotten so much more grace than we deserve. As Job said “'I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.” (Job 33:27b-28) Yes, Job. Agreed.
Nah, we don’t get what we deserve. In fact, we’ve received just the opposite. Consider this afresh today and thank our Heavenly Father for His provision. Thank you, Jesus!
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