God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. —Psalm 103:10
“God hasn’t treated me fairly.”
Not an uncommon thing to hear anymore, I must say. People tend to think they deserve more than God has given them. The Psalmist agrees that God is unfair, but then throws us a curveball. He claims we actually deserve less than God has given us.
That’s a hard sell in our culture. An attitude of entitlement can begin early, when we’re told by our parents, our teachers, maybe even our favorite celebrities, “You can become anything you want to be, you just have to believe in yourself.” (Actually, that’s not even true—if it were, I’d have already had a career in the NBA by now.)
Now I believe that we should become all we can become but, the truth is, life presents all of us a lot of limitations. With optimistic determination and hard work, we can accomplish more than we might have accomplished without those virtues, but there are a lot of things we might want to do or want to become, but there’s just no way we ever will, or even should. That might frustrate us, but we can’t claim it’s unfair.
When Lucifer aspired to achieve God-like status, he was asking for a role that he not only didn’t deserve, but wasn’t designed to succeed in. God never told Lucifer, “Hey Lu, you can become anything you want to be, you just have to believe in yourself.”
A prideful spirit, by the way, has always been the greatest obstacle to the Gospel. And there is such an incredible arrogance in the world today. While the quest to become or acquire more may actually be part of God’s plan, it will never be a quest for justice.
Be careful what you ask for, because the justice you’re always clamoring for is the same justice that condemns us. The notion of getting what we really deserve should actually be rather terrifying, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) That’s why Heaven should be off-limits for all of us, we simply couldn’t qualify. And it gets worse—after Heaven, there’s only one other eternal destination.
If you want to be taken seriously at football tryouts, you better be a good football player, because justice says the best football players should make the team. If you want to be taken seriously as an actor, you better know how to act, because justice says the best actors should get the best roles. And, if you want to be taken seriously as an applicant for an eternally perfect environment, you better be confident that you’re perfect. That’s what justice says.
Can you imagine sitting in the waiting room and filling out that application?
Does the following apply to you?
I have never made a mistake.
No? Well, then, justice says you don’t qualify, no matter what the rest of your answers might be. We’ve actually been im-perfect since the day we were born. (That’s an ominous reality, that our first sin was a capital offense—and we can’t even remember what it was!)
The only reason our sins will not haunt us after the grave is because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. For those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus, the New Testament over and over and over again says, we are “in Christ,” and that changes the entire formula for us. Now the application reads this way.
Do either of the following apply to you?
1) I have never made a mistake.
2) I have placed my faith in Jesus.
I recommend number 2.
The love that caused God to give the only Son He had to die for a sinful world—yeah, that love takes us beyond the justice we all like to talk about and allows us to enjoy the mercy we all desperately need.
“God hasn’t treated me fairly!”
Me neither. Thankfully.