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What We Deserve

There’s a saying among would-be criminals and law enforcement officials alike that gets shared around. It goes like this, “Do the crime, serve the time.” In other words, the seeds we sow will result in a harvest, and in the ideal world of human justice, everyone gets what they deserve!

God turns this principle on its head when he promises to treat us better than we deserve.

In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, Jesus graphically illustrated the “unfairness” of God’s mercy. Whether you serve him from the cradle to the grave, or give him the last few years of an otherwise sordid life, he will reward both alike. God’s grace is outrageously unfair! And it’s a good thing!

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus was tempted to forget about grace and embrace a reciprocal attitude.

“How dark seemed the malignity of sin! Terrible was the temptation to let the human race bear the consequences of its own guilt, while [Christ] stood innocent before God” (Desire of Ages, p. 688).

“In social psychology, reciprocity is a social rule that says people ought to repay, in kind, what another person has provided for them; that is, people give back (reciprocate) the kind of treatment they have received from another.”*

If this had been applied to the sin equation, none of us would have any hope. We cannot will ourselves into the right frame of mind or compensate for or deliberate for unintentional violations. We have simply missed the mark! We have failed to demonstrate that we can be safely trusted with eternity.

Yet, Jesus remembered our origin—that we are but dust. Three times he asked to be released from the impending doom that awaited him on the cross. “But now the history of the human race comes up before [Him]. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish. He sees the helplessness of man. He sees the power of sin. The woes and lamentations of a doomed world rise before Him. He beholds its impending fate, and His decision is made. He will save man at any cost to Himself. He accepts His baptism of blood, that through Him perishing millions may gain everlasting life. He has left the courts of heaven, where all is purity, happiness, and glory, to save the one lost sheep, the one world that has fallen by transgression. And He will not turn from His mission” (Desire of Ages, p. 690-691). Be amazed with wonder! All is not lost. There is yet hope!

The good news that God invites us to share with the world is that WE will treat others as God has treated us!

*Wikipedia

Rich DuBose writes from Northern California.

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.

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