It seems the Bible goes out of its way to portray the kindness of God in stark contrast to man’s total undeservedness.
If God is in fact our Enemy with only destructive intentions toward us, why do we experience any good at all? It isn’t surprising that life is painful. What’s surprising is that life is joyful. What do our simple, daily joys mean? Is God pretending to be our Friend, is He setting us up for the ultimate nasty surprise? Or is God sending us signals every day that His heart is loving and kind, so kind that we can go back to Him in repentance and find His arms open to us?
There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from.
Grace is reward, or favor, given to those who deserve judgment. If a judge found a serial rapist guilty, and then stepped down from his bench, agreed to take the death penalty in the criminal’s place, and sent the rapist on an all-expense-paid vacation to Hawaii for thirty years, that would be grace. The severity of the criminal’s crimes would be the measure of the judge’s grace. In the same way, the knowledge of what we deserve, and what it cost God to be gracious, is the measure of His fatherly grace. When it is said and done, the cross is the tape that measures the length and breadth of God’s grace. Like God’s wrath, His grace is holy. It transcends all human conceptions.
So in the presentation of Scripture the cause of election lies in God, and the cause of reprobation lies in the sinner. Another important difference is that the ground of election is God’s grace, whereas the ground of reprobation is God’s justice.
Men are afraid to have good thoughts of God. They think it is a boldness to eye God as good, gracious, tender, kind, loving. I speak of saints. They can judge Him hard, austere, severe, almost implacable, and fierce (the very worst affections of the very worst of men, and most hated by God). Is not this soul-deceit from Satan? Was it not his design from the beginning to inject such thoughts of God? Assure yourself, then, there is nothing more acceptable to the Father than for us to keep up our hearts unto Him as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.
And when I face reality and see the utter awfulness of my sin contrasted with beauty of His holiness, my never-ending refrain will be that He is a God of amazing grace and that He has given me amazing grace.
What moves God is not our supposed goodness or trophies of righteousness, but rather our desperation and cry to Him for grace. If we could earn it, grace would no longer be grace. Grace by its very definition is giving us what we do not deserve. If we were entitled to God’s favor, it would be a wage that we are due. But since we have merited nothing from God and God being God owes us nothing, we see His favor both in salvation and the blessings that follow all as a token of His undeserved grace to the praise of His glory.