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The wicked and the righteous
- Jacob Ninan
God declares that there is none righteous, and all have gone astray (Ro.3:10-12). The only ones who can be called righteous are sinners to whom God has imputed His righteousness because of their faith in Jesus (Ro.4:3). Such ones acknowledge that they are sinners in God's eyes but they have received forgiveness from Him because Jesus has taken their place on a cross. Even those God called righteous in the Old Testament were those who had faith in God and so were treated as beneficiaries of the sacrifice Jesus was going to make for them later. But those who consider themselves as righteous in their own eyes are still considered wicked by God, even if people around them think they are such good people (Lk.18:11-14)!
God is gracious, and does good to both the wicked and the righteous (Mt.5:44,45). When God says He sends the sun and rain on everyone He is referring to meeting the earthly needs of both wicked and righteous people. Wicked people also get jobs, food to eat, clothes to wear, house to stay in, family life, healing for their sicknesses, etc., just as those who place their trust in the Lord, so much so that many godly people wonder what advantage they have for being so faithful to God (Ps.73:1-3)! But the psalmist saw that the wicked perish when they die (v.27), and that his blessings were in the nearness of God (v.28).
Some people are confused in thinking that God loves everybody the same. It is true that God has no partiality, and He loves everyone equally whom He has created in the sense that He wants all to be saved and He will provide for their needs. But there is a difference in the way people experience God's love--all of us do not experience His love to the same degree. Jesus said the Father and He would come to dwell with those who loved Him and kept His word (Jn.14:23). The more importance we give to getting to know God, keeping His word, and doing whatever He asks us to do, the closer we get to Him and the more intimate our relationship becomes with Him. There are dimensions to this relationship that are known to His godly ones that the casual ones have no clue about. The transformation of our life into His nature is another grace. The difference is also seen in the anointing and the effectiveness of our service for Him. The danger that we all face is that when we stand face to face with Him on the final day we may realise that He wanted to give us more of this intimacy than we actually tasted.
There are also going to be differences among God's people in heaven. Some are going to have better rewards and greater responsibilities (Lk.19:17; Re.2:26;3:21).
One great mistake we may make is to think that earthly blessings are indications of God's pleasure over us. But we only need to look at some of the wicked people to see that they have much more of that kind of abundance. No. The mark of God's pleasure over our life is His intimacy with us. That is what we can carry with us into eternity.