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Monday, November 12, 2007

Is Life Fair?

How is it that one can sometimes suffer for obeying God? God's rationale for allowing His faithful to suffer is summed up in Jesus' life and death. Though Jesus never sinned, He voluntarily gave up His own life that humanity would be saved (Romans 5:6-8). There must be a good reason for this.

The apostle Paul fills in more of the story: "And being found in appearance as a man, He [Jesus] humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8).

In the letter to the Hebrews, we read that "without shedding of blood there is no remission [of sins]" (Hebrews 9:22), that "Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many" (verse 28), and "at the end of the ages, [Jesus] has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (verse 26).

God's path to eternal life is quite different from man's way. Man looks on this life as survival of the fittest. God views life as survival of the humblest. It is God's will that all mankind be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). For a human being to think humbly, he must recognize his inherent weaknesses and what he is in the sight of God. God raises up those who humble themselves: "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:10).

The book of Proverbs teaches us that humility precedes honor (Proverbs 15:33). Jesus is mankind's perfect example of a humble way of life. Humility is not the world's way, but it is God's way (John 14:27; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 Corinthians 4:12). In the world, when a person honors and obeys God and His laws, he will be thought odd and ridiculed for it (John 15:20). But in the world to come that same person will be honored by God and Christ (Revelation 2:26; 3:12, 21).

Life is not fair if you look at life from the world's perspective. But, if you view your physical life from God's perspective, contrasting a few decades of physical existence with an eternity of vibrant, fulfilling living, then this life is strikingly recast in a brighter light. Our lives take on greater dimensions and scope: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10). In this new context, life is fair, redefined as the beginning of everlasting life.

Joseph understood that in this physical existence life is not fair. But he possessed spiritual vision that helped him to actively obey God and remain faithful under the most trying conditions. When we are guided by God's comforting Spirit and remain focused on the hope of eternal life, we learn, as Joseph did, that ultimately "all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

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