Gifts That are Rejected
Have you ever had a gift that you wanted to be extra special because you loved the person that you were giving it to? Hopefully when you gave them the gift, they were grateful and were willing to receive it from you. Imagine if they didn’t want the gift and didn’t like it, and the main reason they didn’t like it was because they didn’t really like you. This would be a great disappointment, but it happens to God all the time. He offers eternal life as a free gift of grace, but people reject it. They often overlook his willingness to give up his own life in order to offer forgiveness if they would turn to Him, and they choose to dwell on the fact that He judges sin. For some reason, this becomes grounds to call Him an unloving and unjust God. Yet I would ask, how could God be loving and not judge sin?
The Reason God Hates Sin
I know it seems contradictory at times because we can see God’s grace, mercy, and love when we see the example of Jesus, but we can also see many instances in the Bible where God is violently opposed to sin. Why is this? First it must be understood, that the reason God hates sin so much is that he loves us. Please note that I did not say that God hates sinners. If that were the case, He would hate all of us because the Bible says we have all sinned. But God does hate sin, and he hates it because He loves us.
God knows that sin is destructive and harmful to you and others, that’s why He hates it. He does not hate sin out of some random preference where He happens to like some things and decides to call those things good, while He happens to hate other things, so He decides to consider them bad and sinful.
We could look at an example of people who don’t like olives on their pizza so they decide to make a law against it just because they don’t like it, regardless of the fact that others may love olives. The fact that other like olives and want them on their pizza isn’t hurting them; it’s just a preference and it would be senseless and egocentric for people to make a law that everyone to refrain from having olives on their pizza. On the other hand, if there were poison mushrooms on the pizza, people might make a law against putting poisonous mushrooms on pizza because they are harmful. The law isn’t made out of a personal preference that keeps others from enjoying what they like. It’s made to protect others from harm, even though the mushrooms may taste good on pizza. In the same way, God doesn’t have a system of right and wrong where He’s just trying to force others to abide by His own preferences that have nothing to do with whether something is harmful or not. Instead, He considers something wrong because it is harmful.
Because of the harmful nature of sin, God doesn’t overlook it. He wants to get rid of it. Think about it, if God didn’t judge sin, how could you trust Him at all? Anyone could do anything to you that they felt like doing and God wouldn’t judge. He would say it’s all ok because He loves everyone no matter what they do. That’s nice for the guy who mistreated you, but if you are the victim, it’s a major bummer. In fact, you might think that if God didn’t judge others who horribly mistreated you, then He would be unloving towards you for allowing things like that to happen without consequence towards evil.
If sin could be overlooked by God because He is so loving, how could you have any confidence that heaven would be a perfect place? Someone in heaven might suddenly have an urge to hurt you and God would lovingly sit by with grace and mercy towards the violator even though it’s causing you pain. But the truth is that sin won’t be allowed in heaven because God wants heaven to be perfect for everyone, and it can’t be that way unless God has zero tolerance towards sin. When you think about it this way, it’s a relief to know that God judges sin and won’t allow it at all. It would be hard to trust Him if He overlooked it.
If God Judges All Sin, How Can You Trust Him?
We can be comforted by the idea that God judges sin because it shows that He is willing to punish anyone who would try to harm us in order to protect our wellbeing. However, if God judges sin, it can also be scary because it might not be the other guy who does something wrong; it might be us. If we do something wrong, would God punish us? If so, He no longer seems like a safe God. This fear is compounded by the knowledge that the Bible says we have all sinned and that no one is righteous (Romans 3:23). Are there small sins in God’s eyes that don’t deserve punishment? James 2:10 says that anyone who breaks any part of the law is guilty of breaking all of it. If this is true, we are in trouble. The Bible says in Romans 6:23, that the wages of sin is death. It’s not just talking about death to the body, it’s talking about eternal death in hell.
Knowing this information is traumatic. The truth is that we don’t want God to be judgmental unless it’s aimed at someone else for harming us or harming someone we value. At that point, His judgment towards those who harm us seems reasonable. But if we ourselves are sinners, the idea of a God who judges becomes terrifying, and if we are honest with ourselves, we can’t really expect a just God to judge others, but not judge us.
Do Some Sins Deserve Punishment, While Other Sins are Not so Bad?
We may reason that there are little sins that should not be judged and bigger sins that are worthy of punishment, and our sins have never been that bad. Yet the Bible points to Adam and Eve as the first sinners. Their sin was to eat fruit from a tree they were commanded not to eat from. Does that sound like such a bad sin? Have you ever eaten something that you were told not to eat? But their sin was bad because God knew that man was surrendering the dominion God gave him to the Devil by submitting to Satan’s will. To sin is to give Satan some degree of authority over your life and it empowers the Devil to do as he pleases on earth, and that resulted in big problems even though the sin may have seems small.
Before that seemingly small sin that Adam and Eve committed, the world was a perfect place. All of the pain, suffering, hatred and death we have in the world today grew out of that first so-called little sin. From our own perspective, we may never see much harm that comes from what we think are little sins that we commit, but God sees far more into the spirit world and much farther into the future than we do. He knows that big problems arise from our supposed small sins that we think have little consequence. If we could see sin the way God sees it, then we wouldn’t think of any sin as being small enough to overlook. When we understand this, we realize that all sin is worthy of punishment, and we can’t escape the fact that we’ve all sinned many, many times.
Hopefully it’s clear that the world would be an unsafe place, filled with terror and constant suspense if there were no consequences for wrong doing. On the other hand, it’s just as terrifying to know that we have sinned, and if we want God to let us off the hook for our sins, then in order for Him to be fair about it, it would mean that He would have to overlook everyone else’s sins, including those who bring harm to us. If God doesn’t punish sin, we will be destroyed by those who have no restraint towards us, but if He does punish sin, we will be destroyed by His judgment, and the Bible says that hell will be our eternal destiny.
These thoughts are almost unbearable. This is why so many people make a deliberate effort to put them out of their minds, because they carry enough weight to crush us, and the truth about eternity seems so brutal. This state of brokenness that people experience when they think about eternity is one the things that can lead to what Jesus refers to as being poor in spirit. Being poor in spirit in regard to eternity is often compounded even further when people recognize the painful truth that agrees with what Jesus said about this life on earth. He tells us in Matthew 6:19, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” In this passage, he warns people that living for things that don’t last is a dead end. It doesn’t work.
Those who have experienced the pain and heartache of losing loved ones, and have experienced rejection, failure, pain and loss of all kinds, have often had their hopes and dreams dashed by the realities of life. They see the deceptiveness of all of the attractions that were once so enticing and they realize that hoping in those things is what broke them. To such people, the world has lost its lure and brings no real hope. Those who understand this are poor in spirit.
In the midst of people who had been broken by life and the truths about eternity, God showed up on earth in human form. Of course I’m referring to Jesus. He did not come to judge, punish, or condemn. Instead, He came to save sinners and to forgive, bless, heal, and offer eternal life. Because of His love for people, many came to Him and He gained many followers. On the other hand, many chose not come to Him and rejected Him.
2 Keys to Accepting God’s Grace
Jesus knew all along that some would come to Him and others would not. He would offer an abundance of grace, but He knew that there were two keys that would cause people to people accept His grace or not. One key for those who followed Him was that they would be poor in spirit. The second key was that they believed that He was the Son of God and that life truly did come through Him. People who were not poor in spirit would not believe that He was the source of life and they wouldn’t come to Him. Their hearts would lead them to find it more convenient to pursue the things of this earthly life than eternal things. This is why Jesus tells us, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21).
When Jesus made an offer for people to come to Him and follow Him, He made his offer to those who were poor in spirit. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come unto me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Who is it that Jesus urges to come to Him? Those who are weary and burdened, and those who are under a yoke. This describes those who are poor in spirit and He makes His offer to them because He knows they are the most likely ones who will come to Him.
Those who are poor in spirit have been crushed under the realization that they have sinned, and they know that if God is fair and just then there is no escape from His punishment. The only way out is the message of hope that God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins upon Himself so that the punishment that we deserved would be removed from us (2Corinthians 5:21 and Isaiah 53:5-6). He not only died for our sins, He rose from the dead to be victorious over death in order to give us the hope that He has the power to raise us from the dead. The Bible says if we trust that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and believe that God raised Him from the dead, that we will be saved and joined to Christ. Our sin nature is joined to him and put to death with Him on the cross, and we are joined with Him in His resurrection so that His resurrection life lives within us, guaranteeing our resurrection to live with Him when we die (Romans 10:9 and Romans 6:3-5). For the poor in spirt who believe this message, knowing that they need God’s offer of grace by accepting Jesus comes naturally and easily.
Trials and Difficulties
If you face the truth about the lack of hope that this life offers and the eternal punishment that is unavoidable due to your sins, you too will end up being poor in spirit, but you will be able to embrace the eternal riches that God offers. If you have faced difficulty, hardship, and heartbreak, don’t think for a second that it means that God has forsaken you. Your struggles and hardships in life can be a blessing if you let them turn your heart to the God and the eternal blessings that He offers. The first milli-second in eternity, your struggles won’t matter, and if they turned you to God for help, you’ll be thankful that God cared enough to shift your attention off the world and onto Him. In the mean-time, you don’t need to wait until you’re in heaven to for God to bless you, God has sent His Spirit from heaven to be with us now. Though this world contains trials, He can bless you and help you now while you are still on earth if you just turn to Him. And He will always receive you because a relationship with you is what He would live and die for.
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”