The Kindness and Severity of God
Paul urged, “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise, you will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).
In kindness, God created a world in which everything was good (Genesis 1:31), a perfect home for mankind. He provided all we needed, including divine instructions. However, when the first couple disobeyed those instructions, God drove them from their paradise home, and exposed them and all succeeding generations to pain and death (Genesis 3).
In kindness, God sent two angels to warn Lot and his family to leave immoral Sodom, lest they be caught in its divine punishment. The angels even accommodated Lot when he complained about the escape route! But when Lot’s wife disobeyed God’s conditions, God turned her into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19).
In kindness, God sent Moses to deliver the nation of Israel from bondage in Egypt. The book of Exodus records how Moses led them out by means of a series of divine plagues, and how God miraculously provided for them as they crossed a barren wilderness en route to their promised land. Yet when the nation rebelled against God, He ordered that the entire adult generation would die in the wilderness (Numbers 13-14). Even Moses, because of his sin, was not allowed to enter Canaan (Numbers 20:8-13).
In kindness, God sent His own Son into the world as an atonement for our sins. No one else was qualified to be that. He has graciously offered to forgive every wrong of those who put their trust in Jesus and His sacrifice, expressing that trust by becoming His disciples (Romans 3:23-26; Matthew 28:18-20). On the other hand, God warns of eternal punishment for those who do not obey the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9) and for Christians who do not remain faithful (Romans 11:22, our text).
Modern preaching tends to focus mostly on God’s grace and kindness, with far less mention of His severity. Peter (Acts 2:37-40), Paul (Acts 13:16-41), and other New Testament preachers presented a more balanced view.
Let’s rejoice in and take advantage of God’s kindness, while at the same time maintaining a healthy fear of His severity.