The Kindness & Severity of God
Romans 11:22 (ESV) – Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
God is who He is. He doesn’t fluctuate from one attribute to the other. He is always who He is. He isn’t part love, part holy, part just, part jealous, or part wrath. He is not a God of parts. He is fully who He is at all times. This is not an easy thing to comprehend with our mortal and finite minds. But what this means is that God does not flow in and out of different moods or states of being.
We do that. There is no question that I can go from kind, to angry, to sad, to elated throughout the course of a day. But while God is a God of feeling and affection, He is not a God that is provoked in and out of states of being. What happens is that our experience of God can be that we experience His kindness, His love, His wrath, His grace, His mercy, or any of His other attributes. God’s state of being doesn’t change, but our experience of God can change based on our lives and actions.
Our passage today highlights this reality. Paul notes the “kindness and severity of God.” God’s severity is experienced by those who are fallen. God’s kindness is experienced by those who continue in His grace. If they do not continue in faithfulness and obedience to God, then they will not experience His kindness. They will experience His severity.
This reminds us that while God never changes, our experience of His character is based on our lives. Do we obey and follow His words? Do we rebel and live according to our own whims and desires? The answers to those questions shape the experience of our encounters with God. His kindness is who He is. Our experience of it comes when we humble ourselves and seek His face. His severity and wrath come from the holiness of His character. If we shun Him and forsake Him, we will experience this righteous anger of God. Turn to Him today in humility and ask the Lord to show you His kindness in your life.
Reflection & Journal:
- What do we mean when we say the Lord doesn’t change states of being?
- How does our life and obedience shape our experience of God?
- What does this passage teach you about God’s character and your life?