Saturday, February 19

Solomon Would Agree with Simon Cowell

I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. --Ecclesiastes 9:11

The radio station I listen to usually does a recap of what took place on the most recent edition of "American Idol". In a soundclip from this week's show, they played a contestant's response to being dropped from the competition. This particular young woman was beside herself for having been eliminated and went on and on about how nothing else ever works out for her (men, job, finances) and that she deserves to continue in the competition because thought that she deserves to have at least something work out for her. Her insistance that she deserves to be celebrated despite an obvious lack of performance quality, is only one example of the over-inflated sense of entitlement that so many people have today.

In thinking about that in the context of this verse in Ecclesiastes, I was reminded of a conversation I had with a friend at a Campus Crusade for Christ meeting a few years back. We were discussing the difference between mercy and grace. He said that mercy is when we don't receive something as a consequence of our actions, and grace is when we receive a blessing in spite of what we really deserve.

In a perfect world, it would stand to reason that good things happen to good people. However, the reality of the world we live in is such that bad things sometimes happen to good people, and good things sometimes happen to bad people. Is this because some people are more deserving of hard times than others? Do some people receive a larger measure of mercy in some situations? Does God hand out a larger portion of grace to some people and not others? Not at all.

Rain falls on the just and the unjust. Everyone has good days and bad days. We don't automatically have perfect lives just because we're Christians. Similarly, those who don't have a relationship with Christ don't necessarily have wretchedly uncomfortable lives.

I found this verse to be important and somewhat encouraging because it made me realize that I don't need to be a "super-Christian" in order to have things in my life go well. I don't believe in fate or coincidences, but I do believe that God will bless me when he sees fit, and as it fits with his plan for my life. Because of this, I have no reason to be upset when good things happen to people who don't know the Lord, nor do I get all worked up when things in my life aren't going as well as I'd like. I've come to think of it this way: if I cried out about the injustice of good things happening to bad people, then I should also get upset about bad things happening to bad people.

God is in control of what happens to whom and when. I shouldn't presume to tell him how I think I should be blessed or when he should allow someone I don't like to be ripped to shreds by an abrasive "Simon Cowell" type person. I need to remember that He has shown mercy to me and given me a measure of his grace. I hope that the meaning of those words will never be lost on me and that I will not develop an over-blown sense of entitlement.

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