“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good,” Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 5:44-55, “and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Theologians point to this statement as evidence of a doctrine called “Common Grace,” or the idea that “God’s love extends even to his enemies.” However, Common Grace is more than just an assumption that God does nice things for people. It vividly demonstrates elements of his perfect Person constantly acting on behalf of the holy and hell-bent alike.
First, as theologians Michael Horton explains, “God’s common grace restrains his judgment, sending rain upon the just and unjust alike…It is a kingdom of grace rather than of power and glory. It is the reprieve for repentance and faith…before the coming Day of the Lord.” As such, the simplest rain shower or tomorrow’s sunrise is testimony of God’s divine character, of his patience, mercy, and boundary-breaching love for all of humanity.
Second, it’s no accident that Jesus describes our sun with a possessive pronoun for God. It is HIS sun, and as its creator and owner, only he has the authority to decide its use. The fact that he freely lavishes life-giving sunshine on humankind, day in and day out, age after age, is constant testimony to our Maker’s generosity toward friend and foe alike. After all, no one can compel God to give a sunrise or to send rain. “God loves absolutely,” Horton says, “and without any compulsion from the objects of his love.” He does this of his own will and accord, without discrimination, and with faithfulness that has lasted beyond uncountable lifetimes.
Third, God’s Common Grace is permanently active, always expressing care and provision for those who love him—and those who hate him. It is he who keeps oxygen abundant in our atmosphere, who takes a buried kernel and turns it into a bumper crop of food, who instructs the body to recover from illness and bathes our lives in overabundant beauty. As theologian, Millard Erickson, reminds, “God inherently not only feels in a particular positive way toward the objects of his love, but he acts for their welfare. [His] love is an active matter…God supplies us with undeserved favors.”
Again, theologians call this doctrine, “Common Grace”—but to my ear that seems a misnomer. God’s unbridled generosity is a most uncommon expression of love in our universe. We are, every single one of us, truly blessed.
[MAC, 1383; CHF, 265, 546; CHT, 320-321]
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