Judgment and Grace

Judgment and Grace

Today’s Scripture Selection: Genesis 4-7

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

One of the most dramatic stories in all of Scripture – and one with which many people have had trouble – is that of the great flood that destroyed everything and everyone on earth, at God’s hand.  Many have used that one Biblical account as excuse enough to give up on the entire Bible.  “How could a loving God do such a thing?” With that one question, often without being willing to enter into genuine dialogue for a possible answer – they dismiss thousands of years of faith and billions of believers worldwide.

I can appreciate their dilemma though.

It isn’t an easy idea – a comfortable one – that suggests that God can be righteous, just, judgmental, and still be full of love and grace.

And yet, that seems to be exactly what Scripture says.

At the beginning of Chapter 6 of Genesis we read these two seemingly conflicting ideas:

“Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.  So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry I have made them.”

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

How can both be true?

Still, in my own life – I have experienced both – many times.

On the one hand, I have had to accept God’s righteous judgment; God’s sorrowful grief and disappointment, and my own, at some of my most unholy and sinful actions.

On the other hand, I have “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” as well – thank God, I have found grace in His eyes.  Where would I be without it?

So, while I guess theologians will argue the point for years to come, I know it’s true.  Somehow, mysteriously, the same God who is righteous and holy accepts and loves me and showers me with grace – not because I “deserve” it – but even (and especially) when I don’t.

That is, after all what grace is.  It is a free, undeserved, but wonderful, life-saving gift.

I know it may be confusing to some.  But in Christ I stake my life, my eternal life, on it.

How about you?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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