Is God Unfair?
In the book of Matthew, chapter twenty five, the Lord is talking about the final judgment. To many people that passage is one of the most terrifying passages in the Bible. I have talked to a lot
of people who tell me how terrified they are of that final day, when all of mankind will stand before God and be judged. "When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate them one from another as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on the left; then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation.......
Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
Just a few weeks ago I helped with the funeral of a good friend of mine. He and I used to work together. For several years we were in the insurance business. We were both struggling to raise our famines. Neither of us was especially good at the job. We just managed to scratch out a living. He worked hard, always hoping to come up with enough business each week to survive a while longer. He came down with cancer this last January. He lived until the middle of August. I was with two denominational preachers in the funeral. I enjoyed getting acquainted with the preachers. I
had a good conversation with one of them in particular.
The brother who had died had made a public profession of faith in Christ about two years before and had joined a denominational church. Both of those preachers had been closely associated with him during those two years. One of the preachers made a comment about what a fine man he had been. And that was right; he was a fine man; if he told you anything, you could believe it. The preacher went on to say that being such a fine person was probably what kept him from being saved much earlier than he was. Because he was such a fine man he did not see his need of the grace of
God until just a few years before he died. The preacher was so alarmed about what might have happened. "What if he had died three years ago?"
He was a fine family man. I thought very highly of him, and I felt a great sense of loss when he died. We had not worked together for several years, but I still saw him very often. He got out of the insurance business, and started selling cars, and for the last several years, he sold me most of the cars I bought. I always trusted him; if he told you anything you could believe it. He would tell you the good points about the car, and he would tell you the bad.
But, anyway, the preacher was alarmed at the thought that the man might have died before he made that all important profession, and that he would have burned in the flames of eternal damnation. There are a lot of people who have the idea that hell will be full of good, honest, kind hearted people who would give you the shirt off their back, but because they did not make that public profession, they are lost world without end.
We will notice in the next few lines that the Bible does not teach any such thing. Notice what the Bible does say about the matter. "The King shall say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered,
and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
The Lord does not need anything you have --- but his children do. This chapter is not telling what gains you a home in heaven. It is the suffering, and death, and imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves people from eternal damnation, and gains them a home in heaven. This chapter does not say a thing about imputed righteousness. It is not talking about what gains you a home in heaven; it is giving a DESCRIPTION of those who are going to be in heaven. It is giving those characteristics which describe a child of God. He said the exact same thing to every person he set
on his right hand. He told them, "I was an hungered and ye fed me; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink," and so on. Every one of those on his right hand had compassion on his fellow man. No doubt, some of them had more compassion than others, but every person on his right hand was a caring, compassionate person.
Now turn to those on his left hand. "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee. Then shall he answer them, saying,
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal."
Notice what he does not say. He did not say, "I was hungry, and ye did not give me enough." He did not say, "I was thirsty, and ye did not give me enough." He said, "I was hungry, and ye gave NO MEAT; I was thirsty, and ye gave me NO DRINK." YOU WILL NOT FIND THE FIRST TRACE OF HUMAN KINDNESS IN ANY PERSON ON THE LEFT. There is a place of eternal damnation, a burning, flaming hell. The wicked will fill that place up, and they will be there in all eternity- But if you find any person who has compassion for his fellow man, you have found a child of God, and on that final day you
will find him on the right hand of his Lord.
In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord said, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit." The Lord does not identify his people by labels. He identifies them by description. You know a tree by its fruits. Here in the little town where I live there is a college. It has a nice little campus, and they have a lot of trees. They have little name plates on some of the trees. Most people can identify the more common trees. You do not need a
nameplate to identify a pine tree, or an oak, or a maple, but there are some trees that you might not be able to identify without a nameplate.
Suppose you come up to a tree and it is loaded down with apples. Do you need a nameplate? I believe if I saw a tree loaded with apples. I would know right away that I had found an apple tree. And I can tell you that if you find somebody who bears this fruit---this fruit of kindness, and love, and compassion toward his fellow man, you have found a child of God.
In I John, chapter four, verse seven, the Lord said, "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." Verses 20 and 21, "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar, for he that loveth not his brother, whom he hath seen, how can he love God, whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God, love his brother also." If a man does not love his fellow man, he does not love God. But if he does love his fellow man, he does love God. They go together.
There may be somebody who will burn in the flames of eternal damnation that you love, but there will not be anybody there who loves you. The Lord says, "EVERY ONE THAT LOVETH IS BORN OF GOD, AND KNOWETH GOD." As surely as you find a tree with apples on it you have found an apple tree, AND AS SURELY AS YOU FIND SOMEBODY WITH GENUINE LOVE FOR HIS FELLOW MAN YOU HAVE FOUND A CHILD OF GOD.
Paul said, "For our God is a consuming fire." When I was a boy growing up in the foothills of East Tennessee, most everybody heated with coal. I am talking about a coal heater that sat in the middle of the living room floor. Nobody in the community where I lived had central heat. If you walked into that room, you did not have to ask anybody if there was a fire in the heater. If there was a fire in the heater, the fire inside would manifest itself outside. If somebody is born of the Spirit of God, you do not have to ask him if God's Spirit lives in his heart. Our God is a
consuming fire, and the fire that is in the heart of the child of God will manifest itself outside. The warmth of the Spirit of God living in the heart of an individual is not manifest nearly so much by a religious creed as it is manifest by a genuine concern for those around us.
There is an eternal burning hell, and the Adolph Hitler's, the Joseph Stalin's, the Saddam Hussein's, and the Ted Bundy's of this world will fill that place up. But you will not find anybody there who had genuine love, and compassion for his fellow man. If you find anybody who has genuine love for his fellow man you have found a child of God. He has that love because God's Spirit lives in his heart. Now he is not a child of God, because he has those characteristics. It is the other way around. He has those characteristics because he is a child of God. Having apples does
not make an apple tree, but it proves that it is an apple tree.
There may be those in this sinful world, perplexed with the sinfulness of our own nature, and confused by our own twisted thinking, who would dare to accuse God of being unfair, but you can be sure that in that eternal city, when everything will be made clear, there will never be any such accusation made.