You Deserve This

Published by DonDavidson on

Here’s an amusing diversion for you this week. Pay attention to (or count) all of the ads you hear that use the words “You deserve. . . .” Advertisers use this phrase because they want you to feel that buying their product or service is not merely an indulgence but something to which you are entitled (for you are more likely to spend your money on something you think you deserve than on something you merely want). .

Similarly, many of us assume that we deserve good things to happen in our lives. Some claim that the fact that “bad” things happen—to people we respect, to people we love, and of course to ourselves—is proof that there is no God. If God exists, so the argument goes, he wouldn’t allow these “bad” things to happen.[1]

So what does the Bible say that we deserve? To answer this question, we must first realize where we stand in God’s eyes.

We have failed him.

As Paul says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)[2] Or as John says: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

We are like the criminal who is caught in the act, or like the child with his hand in the cookie jar when his mom walks in. Through our self-centeredness and meanness, we have hurt God’s children (including ourselves), and God sees our every failure.

Will he let us go unpunished? Can he? What would we think of a judge who refused to punish a thief who stole from us, or a murderer who killed someone we love? How would we feel if that judge simply let the criminal go? Would we not think that such a judge is terribly unfair and unjust—indeed, that he doesn’t deserve to be a judge at all?

God is neither unfair nor unjust, and he is our judge.

If you are so egotistical that you think you can actually measure up to God’s standards, read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount,[3] where he sets forth seemingly impossible standards for our behavior, such as:

—rejoice and be glad when you are insulted, persecuted, or lied about;[4]

—do not even be angry with other people, much less insult them;[5]

—do not lust after a woman who is not your wife (or a man who is not your husband);[6]

—don’t get divorced unless your spouse has been unfaithful;[7]

—if someone hits you, do not hit back, but turn the other cheek;[8]

—“love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44);[9]

—practice your religion privately, trusting God, rather than men, to recognize your piety;[10]

—do not worry about food or money or material possessions—instead, trust God to provide all that you need (that one is particularly hard for me);[11]

—do not concern yourself with the transgressions of others, but merely worry about your own behavior.[12]

Since none of us measures up to God’s standards, our imperfections result in wrath: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18)[13] Note that God’s anger is directed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness, not merely against those more wicked than ourselves. We may not like it, but all of us are “by nature children of wrath.” (Ephesians 2:3)

So what do we deserve? We deserve God’s anger and punishment because we have hurt and offended others—and by hurting and offending his children, we have hurt and offended God.

Fortunately, God does not want to give us what we deserve. That is why Jesus came, to save us from God’s wrath:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

—Romans 5:8-10[14]

Christ saves us from God’s wrath, not because we deserve it,[15] but because he loves us and wants to rescue us. This is what the New Testament means when it says we are saved by “grace,”[16] which means “unmerited favor.” Salvation is God’s free gift.[17] We don’t deserve it, and we don’t have to earn it—we just need to accept it.

[1]. For more on this topic, see Chapter Three of my book, Beyond Blind Faith, entitled “Why Do Bad Things Happen (to Me)?

[2]. See also, Romans 3:9-12.

[3]. Matthew, chapters 5 through 7

[4]. Matthew 5:11-12

[5]. Matthew 5:22

[6]. Matthew 5:28

[7]. Matthew 5:32

[8]. Matthew 5:39

[9]. See also, Luke 6:27-28.

[10]. Matthew 6:1-18

[11]. Matthew 6:24-34

[12]. Matthew 7:1-5; many other examples could be cited to demonstrate God’s standards and how difficult they are to meet, such as: Romans 1:29-31; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians; 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5-6; Philippians 3:18-19; Colossians 3:5-6; Revelation 21:8, 22:15.

[13]. See also Romans 2:5-6 and 2:8.

[14]. See also, for example, Matthew 26:27-28; Mark 10:45; John 3:14-17, 6:51-58; Romans 8:1-4; Ephesians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Timothy 1:15, 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:26-28, 10:10-14; 1 Peter 3:18.

[15]. See for example, Romans 11:6 or Ephesians 2:8-9. See also, Luke 1:76-78 and Titus 3:5-7.

[16]. See, for example, Ephesians 2:4-6; see also, Acts 15:11, 20:32; Romans 3:24, 5:15, 11:6; Galatians 2:21, 5:4; Ephesians 1:7, 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 2:11, 3:5-7; Hebrews 4:16.

[17]. See Romans 3:24, 5:15-17, 6:23; Ephesians 2:8.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *