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Faith Alive! | Commandments of Christ 2

2. Concerning God …

From issue 78 (May 2004)

HAVE you ever thought about how kind God has been to all of us when we don’t really deserve it? Normally we hear people wanting to blame God for all the bad things that are happening in the world and in their lives, but what about thanking God for all His kindness?

How kind has God been to you?

God’s kindness to us

First of all God made the world just right for us to live in. He has let the sun rise and the rain fall on the just and the unjust for generations without any of us lifting a finger. We weren’t there when God made the world: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand” (Job 38:4). We didn’t help and yet God did all this for us to have the perfect environment to survive.

Secondly, we have the gift of life itself. We haven’t done anything worthy in order to be born and yet God knew all about us before we even arrived. The psalmist says: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made … My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place … All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16).

Like David we find this type of knowledge both amazing and comforting, but as wonderful as this is, it’s only the beginning of God’s kindness to us.

Paul tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Before we were even born, the God of heaven and earth gave His only, beloved, perfect and sinless son to die so that we can live forever. We didn’t earn this love. We haven’t been so good that we deserved it. Paul tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23,24). This is the amazing free gift of salvation. This is kindness to us, the undeserving, on a scale so huge that we can’t even begin to imagine it.

Our response?

So what is our response to this undeserved favour? How can we begin to thank God for His kindness to us? Paul tells us in Ephesians: “Be imitators of God” – copy God’s example! At first, reading this sounds an impossible thing to do: how can we imitate God? Basically Paul is saying that when we show the same sort of impartial kindness to others that has been shown to us, then we are imitating God. We prove that we really are His children by being “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave (us)” (Ephesians 4:32).

Jesus told us to imitate God as well in the Sermon on the Mount: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

In the context, Jesus isn’t talking about being sinless, but about showing impartial love and kindness to people who don’t deserve it.

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” (Matthew 5:46,47).

Just being nice to people who we get on with doesn’t really cover it, does it? It’s easy to be lovely to people who are lovely to us – anyone can do that. But to show kindness to the undeserving, to love the unlovable, to have impartial compassion on all – that is imitating God’s example with us.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1,2).

Living a life of love and giving ourselves up for people who dislike us is not easy. It challenges the way we would naturally respond and behave, but both Jesus and Paul link the practice of showing kindness to the undeserving with our being called God’s children. By copying our Heavenly Father’s loving example we are showing the family likeness. We will never deserve the kindness God has given us, but hopefully He will be able to see the family resemblance in the kindness we show to each other.

Suzi Spencer

 

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