“Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” Jude 21 (NASB)
God is a just God, One who shows no partiality. Outside of grace, God’s penalty falls on all. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sin is sin. The consequences have been posted; He gives fair warning. No excuses excepted. No variations on the rules. Man is accountable. Rebellion, be active or passive, calls for justice.
I understand God’s justice because I remember rebellion ten-year-old rebellion. My father was the dispenser of justice. “No swimming in the creek today,” he said. I had plenty of excuses: “Jimmy went in.” “I was hot.” “It isn’t fair when everybody else’s dad lets them go.”
Excuses didn’t matter because the standard had been violated. The penalty was swift and sure. Justice was done. But then the father who had just administered justice reached for his big white handkerchief and wiped the tears from his eyes. That day, justice and love were forever linked in my mind.
My father’s actions pointed me toward a heavenly Father who sits in the hall of justice, calls His creation to accountability, but weeps over waywardness even as He pronounces sentence. “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34). Justice and love exist in the same Person.
I can be at peace about God’s system of justice, for I have confidence in the Judge. There will be no payoffs. He judges clean.
As a sinner who knows where to find grace, I know God today not as my judge but as a loving Father who continually calls me to accountability. One day He was my judge. But I can almost see a white handkerchief dabbing tears as He wept over my rebellion, issued the sentence, and then took my penalty upon Himself. I am acquired. Justice has been done. My debt has been paid. I can rest my case.
“God is fair,” I said to myself, “whether or not I understand His ways. For He is a God of justice.”