On the first day of the fall semester, a professor handed out the syllabus for his English class. He asked each of the fifty students assembled in the lecture hall to turn to the last page, which detailed the course assignments. “As you see,” he said, “You are required to write three papers this semester. The first one is due on September 30, the second on October 30, and the third on November 30. I want to stress that these deadlines are not flexible. I expect the papers to be handed in by those dates and I will not consider any excuses.”
A month later, the deadline for the first assignment came, and all but two students submitted their papers. They talked to the professor after the class session and asked if it was possible to be granted an extension. Initially the professor refused, but after listening to their excuses, he relented and gave the two students three more days to turn in their papers.
At the end of October, this scenario was repeated. This time five individuals had not completed their papers by the due date. These students begged the professor for an extension, and again, after initially refusing, the professor agreed to give them a few more days to turn in the assignment.
It was now November 30. The final paper for the English class was due, but there were ten students who had not completed their assignment. At the end of the session, the professor simply said that all those who did not hand in a paper before they left the room would receive an “F” on that assignment and that he would not consider any requests for an extension. One of the students raised his hand and exclaimed, “But Professor! That is not fair!” “What is not fair?” the professor replied. “I have told you many times that November 30 was absolutely the final deadline for this paper. I don’t think it is my fault that you neglected your responsibility.” “But, it’s not fair!” the student persisted, “I turned in my first two papers three days late and you gave me a “B” on the first one and an “A-“ on the second.”
“You are right,” the professor replied, “That was not fair.” At that point he took his grade book, found the students name, erased the “B” that had been recorded for the first assignment, and replaced it with an “F.” He then erased “A-” for the second assignment and wrote in an “F” instead. “There,” the professor said, “now I am being fair. I hope that makes you happy. Now, are there any other students who don’t think it is “fair” that I penalize them for not completing this assignment on time?”
Friends, this story reminds me that you and I would be in big trouble if God was merely “fair” and gave us exactly what we deserved. Because of our sin, because of our pride and selfishness, because of our rebellion against God and refusal to live as He desires, we should be punished. We deserve His wrath. The good news is that God chooses not to simply be “fair,” but rather to grant us mercy and grace. Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice and payment for our sins. Because of this, God mercifully chooses to not punish those who embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior. In His grace, He also extends many benefits of being a child of God to all who place their trust in the Lord Jesus. This may not be fair, but it is great news for us.
Yours, thankful God has shown me not justice, but amazing grace and mercy,
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church