There’s another way we benefit because God doesn’t change.
We noted last time that God keeps his promises to us, because (among other things) he’s never surprised by circumstances that prevent him from keeping them.
There’s another side to that principle, one that has benefited us infinitely and continues to benefit us every day.
Sometimes other people surprise us. We do nice things to them, and they take no notice—or worse, they begin to expect those things. They don’t respond in kind. And they leave us wondering, “What is wrong with people like that? How can they return evil for good? Well, see if I ever do anything for them …”
That’s a typical human response. Tit for tat. Eye for an eye. Don’t cry for people who won’t cry for you.
And in a way, there’s a certain kind of justice in that. He mistreated me; he gets what he deserves. What goes around comes around.
We excuse ourselves by calling it justice, but in fact we’ve changed. We were inclined to do the right thing, to be kind, to be generous, to be caring. And a circumstance—the way we were treated—changed us. Now we’re not so inclined.
That change of attitude and inclination tells us something. It tells us that our original motives weren’t philanthropic or altruistic at all. We were expecting payback.
We were motivated not by love for our neighbor, but by love for ourselves.
God’s not that way. At all.
He is motivated, as always, by his own nature—in this case, his nature to be perfectly, consistently, eternally, selflessly loving.
He treats us well. And by “us,” I mean all of us. He placed our first parents into a world perfectly designed for them. And thousands of years later, he sends rain to the just and also to the unjust (Mt 5.45). He gives us—all—everything we need, for free.
How did we respond to his kindness? We turned on him like utter ingrates, rebelling against him, rejecting his offer of relationship, denying his goodness, insisting that we were wiser than he.
If you and I were God—I speak as a fool—how would we have responded in that situation?
Ah, but that’s the difference, you see. We are changed by our circumstances, slaves to our own limited knowledge, victims of surprise.
God is not. He is not surprised; he is not changed.
He knew, when he made us, how we would turn out. He loved us before we rebelled, and he loves us after. On the day he made our first father, he committed to an eternal relationship with us—committed, in fact, to becoming one of us, forever, offering himself in mortal flesh as the infinite and morally perfect sacrifice for our sin.
We would strike out at those who mistreat us, and do it in the name of Justice.
He withholds that judgment, taking it upon himself, so that Justice is done, but not at our expense.
He withholds from us the evil consequences that we justly deserve.
The technical term for that is Mercy.
And he offers that gift to anyone who wants it. For free.
It comes to us, because our God does not change, even in the
face of our rebellion.
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow (Jam 1.17).
The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Ro 11.29).
God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (He 6.17-20).