Devotion for October 3-5, 2017

“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of
Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?”
Ezekiel 18:25

“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the
prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to
you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the
tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him.’” Matthew 21:31b-32a
“It’s not fair!” This exclamation is common to both children and
adults. A child watches someone get something that they deserve and
they know that it’s not fair. A man watches his lazy co-worker get a
promotion ahead of him and he grumbles about the injustice of it. We
have a sense about what’s fair and unfair, at least according to our
standards.

This isn’t a problem until we start trying to apply our standards to
God’s behavior. We often want to take our rules and apply them to the
Lord, thinking that He should do things the way we think He should.
Then, when He doesn’t, we claim that it’s unfair, that it’s unjust. We join
ancient Israel in their complaint against the Lord, the complaint that the
Lord turns right back against them: “Is my way not just? Is it not your
ways that are not just?”

According to our fallen human measurements, grace isn’t fair. God
forgives all sins, the sins that we think of as great or small. His
forgiveness, poured out at the cross of Jesus, is enough to cover the
entire world. But we complain. We often think of our own sins as small.

We try to stand up next to our neighbor and prove that he’s a bigger
sinner than we are. We want to show God that He owes us more than
others, that we should have some special favor from Him because of
how good we’ve been, that it would be unfair of Him to do anything
else.

But thanks be to God that He doesn’t operate according to our
rules of what’s fair and what isn’t. If we got what was fair, we’d receive
condemnation for trying to be God and telling Him what to do. If we got
what was fair, we wouldn’t have a scrap of food or a drop of water. But
God isn’t bound by what fallen mortals think is fair. He forgives our sins.
He gives us His Son to take what we had earned, which is hardly the
definition of “fair”. But that’s what grace does—it takes what is Jesus’
and gives it to us. It takes what is ours and gives it to Jesus. And Jesus
gladly does all of this for our good. Thank God that He is gracious and
good and that He doesn’t give us what would be fair. Instead, He gives
us Jesus.

Prayer: Almighty God, You give us every good gift even though
we don’t deserve it. Help us to understand all that you’ve given
us by grace in Jesus. Grant that we would always be thankful for
your mercy. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.