Is God Unfair in His Judgment?

When we look at God and our world from a biblical perspective, then and only then are we thinking rightly. The biblical perspective is that everyone deserves God’s wrath, but that God is merciful. When suffering people say they deserve better treatment from God, surely He must groan. Everyone is receiving much more mercy than he or she deserves.

In keeping with this theme, Jesus once commented on two contemporary calamities. We read in Luke’s gospel:

Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him [Jesus] about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).

The Galileans who died at Pilate’s hand could not say, “God has treated us unfairly by not saving us from Pilate!” No, they were sinners who deserved to die. And, according to Jesus, those Galileans who survived would be wrong to jump to the conclusion that they were less sinful than their murdered neighbors. They had not earned greater favor from God—they had been granted greater mercy.

Christ’s message was clear: “You are all sinners. Sin has consequences. For now, you live because of God’s mercy. So repent before it is too late for you as well.”

Jesus concluded His comments on those tragedies with a parable about God’s mercy:

And He began telling this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down'” (Luke 13:6-9).

Here are the justice and mercy of God illustrated. God’s justice cries out, “Cut down the worthless tree!” But His mercy pleads, “No, give it more time to bring forth fruit.” Every person who is without Christ is like that tree.