Yesterday, over some ridiculously delicious Sunday afternoon Mexican food, I was discussing with those at my table the various ways the members of the Lyle family awake in the morning. Highly unusual for a boy his age, Landon springs out of bed as soon as enough sunlight enters his room and his typical demeanor is that of a warrior desiring to know which planet will be his to be conquered before noon. Alicia, not untypically for a young lady her age, resists the morning with all her might and would likely slumber for hours longer if we allowed. Don’t mess with Mrs. Lyle until her sunrise I.V. has pumped that caffeinated courage into her system – she might growl like a lion prior to her first cup but she purrs like a kitten the rest of the day. Me? I wake up thinking and my own inner alarm clock seeks to greet the morning when it is still, technically, the night before. My brain nudges my body awake and whispers, “You gonna lay here all day or what?” True enough, we all awake differently but today I’m curious as to the following: How many awoke today considering the reality that God is in absolute authority? If any among us did so, how many would be quick to acknowledge how gracious He is to mankind with this authority? Jesus addressed this issue as He taught the willing in Luke 6 and made the following statement without any explanation.
“For He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil.” – Luke 6:36
Jesus did not say the following:
“In spite of natural disasters, God is kind…”
“Although we are forced to acknowledge the reality of death and suffering and sorrow, God is kind…”
“Before I discuss the injustice in the world, I would wish to submit the truth that God is kind…”
No, the Son of God simply asserts that His heavenly Father is kind. Not only is God kind to His own children but also to those who Christ characterizes as being unthankful and evil. If we are to believe this we must slow down and look at the evidence which supports the kindness of God and lay that evidence against the undeniable backdrop of what humans actually deserve from God. So, here first, is the backdrop: because we are willing sinners who have violated the will and personhood of God, all human beings unequivocally deserve execution by Him. According to His own word, we fully deserve His full fury and wrath. We cannot lay claim to leniency or hope for preferential treatment. We are not entitled to minimize our culpability by comparing ourselves to someone else who is manifestly more sinful than we ourselves are. No, we each deserve hot, hellish, fiery, separating, dark and thunderous wrath from the holy God who sits enthroned in comprehensive perfection. This is what every human being deserves because of our sin against God. There are no exceptions. But… what do we actually receive?
I will address the minimum that all humans receive by focusing on the common grace given to the inhabitants of earth. He gives us our birth; we are born into a world that has potential to experience God. We may know His peace, His power, His fullness, His promises, His love, His mercy, His grace, His generosity. We breathe His air upon His planet under His sky heated by His sun. There is food for days of sustained physical life – whether they be few days or many, full meals or meager, delicious or mundane – God provides us food. He shelters us that we may awaken tomorrow. Some dwell under ornate ceilings, between insulated walls, on beds of ease. Others will dwell beneath thatch, between adobe walls on dirt floors. Some will make their homes in cliffs and caves to escape the heat or the cold. God is undeservedly kind to feed and shelter us. Be careful of the sense within us which protests that we are fully entitled to these things and more – Jeff, how dare you piously preach to us that these things alone qualify as kindness from God to mankind! Oh, dear friend, please do not forget the dark backdrop; is it not kindness to receive birth rather than deserved death? Food rather than immediate and justified condemnation? Shelter on earth in place of banishment to hell? The backdrop of our deserved judgment gives context to His observed kindness in our lives. Let us never, ever forget what we are truly due. Let our mouths be stopped if we are inclined to declare we deserve otherwise. Beyond the common grace afforded to all is particular grace that allows for us to experience love, laughter, peace, joy, wisdom, learning, courage, trust and countless other immaterial aspects of life below. If we could simply understand that what has come our way so often and so fully is not anything that God owes us, then we would more fully appreciate His kindness.
The Bible teaches that God’s goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). May the follower of Christ repent of his fearful despair and tolerated depression because God has been indescribably good to him. May the unbeliever repent of his unbelief and prideful dismissal of the claims of Christ in light of the symphony of God’s goodness which beckons him to bow before His maker. God would show the believer eternal goodness – and He certainly will not be denied this delight – you, His child, will know of His goodness in ways that you have not yet been allowed to fathom. This is coming- it is your destiny in Jesus Christ! God would show the rebel His exceptional kindness by granting you to turn from yourself and lift empty, pleading believing hands heavenward and cry to Him for help and forgiveness. You may do this right now and receive indescribable relief from sin’s penalty and power. What are you waiting for?
Thank you, God, for being kind. Thank you, specifically, for being so kind to me.