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Grace Tempered With Justice

2 Samuel 12:7-12

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"Nathan then said to David, 'You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. [8] I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! [9] Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. [10] Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. [11] Thus says the Lord, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your companion, and he shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. [12] 'Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.'"

It is impossible to speak of the grace of God, without coming dangerously close to making it sound completely unjust. Remember "The Laborers in the Vineyard," Jesus' parable recorded in Matthew 20:1-16? The owner of the vineyard hired four sets of workers at different times of the day. The first set agreed to work for a fixed wage, the others agreed to work for "whatever is right." At the end of the day, those who worked just a few hours received the same wage as the first group that worked all day long. Of course, those who worked all day long thought they were mistreated, even though they got the amount of money the owner promised them. They looked at the owner's grace and thought it was "unfair." Whenever we proclaim the great grace of God, it seems unfair to those who need less of it. To think that a murderer and the murdered could both occupy a place in heaven seems unjust. But potentially, they could. Because in the economy of God's grace, being less undeserving is impossible. Because of our sins, we are undeserving-the degree of how undeserving we are doesn't play into the equation. All that matters is that we are undeserving. The murderer? Certainly, we believe she doesn't deserve grace. The murdered? We'll we have a harder time with that one. Yes, he may of sinned, like everyone else, but the sin that was committed against him was greater than any sin he'd committed. So we waffle a bit and come to believe he is less undeserving.

Where we really go bonkers thinking about God's grace is to contemplate that the murderer could spend eternity in heaven while the murdered could spend eternity in hell. The doctrine of grace teaches us that our eternal destiny is determined by whether or not we accept God's gift of forgiveness in our life, not by our own goodness. Is this fair? It doesn't seem so, does it? But then again, grace isn't fair. Fair would be for all sinners to go to hell and all those who have never sinned to go to heaven. Now that would be fair! But given that option, I'd rather have grace than fairness? How about you?

Last week, we commented that God's justice was tempered with his mercy. This week, we see that the converse is also true, that His grace is often times tempered with justice. There is something about this thought that makes his grace and mercy seem a little more fair. God extended His grace to David, but it was tempered with justice-he still suffered because of his sin. Over the next eight chapters of 2 Samuel we see God tempering his grace with his justice. 
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