Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Is God's Grace Fair?

Colossians‬ ‭4:2-6‬ ‭- Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

I don't know how we got from this scripture to the discussion we had! But that's the way it is in Sunday school. There are two parables we discussed as asides and interpretations of God's grace...how in our natural man's mind it doesn't always seem fair. But...God's grace is always fair. It just is. It is we who often want things done in our natural man's mind and in our way because we think we know better.

One parable is of laborers in a vineyard. (Matthew 20:1-16) An owner hires men to work in his vineyard. He offers the first men a denarius for their work. They were hired early in the morning. Later he offers work to a second group around noon, and the third group later in the day, suggesting he will offer them what is right. So each worked different hours. At the end of the day the owner gives all the men a denarius. Of course the those who worked all day were a bit miffed that they received the same as the men who worked less time. Seem fair?

Then there's the well known story of the prodigal son. (Luke 15:11-32) A man has two sons. One works diligently for his father. The other decides to gather up his inheritance, leave his father's house and ends up squandering it all in a despicable lifestyle until he has spent all his inheritance and has to crawl back to his father to ask for forgiveness. As the delinquent son returns, the father, who has never stopped looking for his son's return, spies him in the distance and runs excitedly out to meet him and bring him home. The father has his servants begin to put together a welcome home party, much to his other son's anger...I've worked hard and faithfully all these years but you treat my brother, your wayward son, with all this respect although he squandered all he had on useless living. Seem fair?

The answer is: God will give whatever He believes is right. We have nothing to say about it. Seem fair? You better believe it is. God has offered His grace to all who desire it. It is His decision to offer it. 

These parables point us to the meaning of salvation. The vineyard owner and the prodigal son's father both symbolize God the Father. The parables are salvation messages for us. His grace is sufficient for any circumstance or any person. 

So the discussion came up...a person has received Christ's forgiveness for his sins. He has known the Lord for years and lived for Him, never backed down, strayed, or gotten lost. He lived for Him. This man would surely go to heaven one day. The Lord surely loved Him as His child. (Like the men who worked all day.)

Then you have someone else. The example, although there are thousands upon thousands like this, was of Jeffrey Dahmer. A man who did unthinkable acts of disgusting cruelty. It is said, though we don't know this for fact, that he gave his life to the Lord in prison. Only God knows if this truly happened. Suppose it was a heartfelt confession and he did accept Christ. Jeffrey Dahmer may also be in heaven. Seem fair? (Like the men who only worked a little time.)

And the prodigal son? Anyone who has received Christ, turned away but realizes the error in this and returns to God, is received graciously once again by the Father. 

There's also the account in Luke 23:39-43 of the thief on one of the crosses alongside Jesus. While one cursed Jesus, the other realized his sin as well as the other thief's, and knew they both deserved this punishment. He affirmed that Jesus did nothing to receive this punishment and asked that he be remembered in His kingdom...for which Jesus pardoned that man's sin immediately. Seem fair? Last minute reprieve? 

It was also suggested that we may think giving a pardon to someone at the last minute of life because we have walked with the Lord for so long. How can someone who has lived their life doing as they pleased with no love or respect for God, no remorse for his sins, receive Christ on their deathbed? Or,     conversely, we think how much better a person's life might be if they would receive Christ and enjoy the peace and comfort now

To God it is all fair. In His way. In a way we cannot understand other than: His ways are perfect. God's ways can seem mysterious. It's all about His timing. 
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. (Psalms‬ 18:30‬)
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. ‭‭(Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬)
And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”‭‭ (Acts‬ ‭1:7‬)

I'm in no way suggesting anyone wait till their deathbed to receive Christ. Oh, what a person can have today in Christ. The richness of His forgiveness, the fullness of righteousness, the hope of a life in heaven, the peace, comfort and joy of life in Christ. Priceless. He IS our priceless treasure! 

I will leave it at that. Other things were brought up regarding God's purpose for what He does. Basically, the answer is, because He can. Our finite, natural minds cannot ever know His mind and His thoughts. That's okay. We must be okay with that or we will frustrate the daylights out of ourselves. The whole idea gives us pause for thought and reflection...perhaps even a better understanding of God. 

According to the scripture at the beginning, though, we are still to be salt and light in this world for unbelievers to see. We each have a role to play, mainly planting the seed. Sowing the seed of life that another life might one day be be reaped into the kingdom. It is by God's grace, however, that it is ultimately accomplished. Amen!

1Corinthians‬ ‭3:6-7‬ ‭- I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

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