Favor Instead of Wrath

Today is my 29th birthday. Like other annual mile markers, birthdays tend to inspire both reflection on what the preceding years have brought and contemplation on what the future holds. So it is natural that my thoughts have wandered often the last few days to the good life that God has given me. I was blessed with a family that turned to Christ when I was very young. I myself learned of the person and work of the Savior at an early age. I have had the ongoing grace of hearing faithful servants of God communicate his word to me in public and private settings. I have an amazing wife whose beauty is outshone only by her inner person. I have two adorable daughters who have stolen my heart time and time again. And now I have the privilege of studying and teaching God’s word to his people. God’s grace to me has been remarkable. He has truly given me the good life.

But what the Lord arrested my heart with this morning is the backdrop against which his grace shines. The backdrop of his grace is the wrath that I deserve. It is not merely that God has taken neutral beings like me and shown favor to them; it is rather that God has taken decidedly evil beings who were worthy of nothing but endless wrath and poured on them a wrath-absolving, righteousness-producing grace. And most amazingly, in order to be “just and the Justifier” (Ro 3.26), he satisfied his just wrath against me and my sin by pouring it out on his unique Son, Jesus.

Such wrath as would kindle a hell
of never-abating despair
for millions of sinners–then fell
on Jesus, and spent itself there.
–Joseph Swain

So my early conversion, my loving family, my faithful mentors, my ministerial opportunity–all of these reflect not only God’s kindness to someone who really deserved nothing at all. Each of these–as well as the thousands of other mercies God displays every day–is a token of favor for one who deserved endless wrath. On this day I rejoice in that grace.

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