Goodness And Severity Of God: Bible Meaning

In trying to answer the question of whether God being love, how can he also be severe?

The first thing I must say is that we are dealing here with a sensitive and complex issue.

However, the Bible sheds light on this.

The apostle Paul, speaking of the fact that through Jesus Christ salvation was bestowed upon the Gentiles and “exclusivity” was taken away from the Jews, illustrates the subject in an interesting way that some might consider a little controversial.

It tells of how the branches of a wild olive tree (Gentiles) were grafted into a cultivated olive tree (salvation, the gospel, Jesus Christ) and for this, it was necessary that branches of cultivated olive trees (Jews) were torn apart.

In this way, the Gentiles come to share in the gospel, because the Jews despised it.

But Paul warns them not to feel superior to the Jews, for as is clear, it is not by their own merit but by the grace of God that they, through faith, can participate in the gospel.

Read with me the continuation of the story:

(…) But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith.

Do not be arrogant, but tremble.

For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness.

Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

| Romans‬ ‭11:20-22‬

Two main things in this passage caught my attention.

The first is that the Apostle Paul calls us to also remember an aspect of God’s character that we normally overlook.

His severity.

And the text expresses that, God treats severely those Jews who deliberately, and contrary to biblical evidence, reject the Holy Spirit’s witness and faith in his son.

The passage clarifies the wrong image that many of us have had of God.

It is true that the definition of God’s character is love, however, this should not be understood as God being an “infatuated romantic madman”.

I think it is necessary to balance the image of God in some of our minds.

If we could understand God’s dignity, we would have a more respectful image of Him, his love, his patience, and his sovereignty.

Every extreme is dangerous.

Having an unconscious perspective of God, as someone who will never make judgments, but will spend eternity trying to “fall in love” with human beings who repudiate and offend him.

It is an image that does not know that there will be a time when God will bring our actions into account, in the face of his excessive patience and holiness.

Balancing that image would certainly lead us to be respectful, holy fearful, and never arrogant.

The second thing that catches my attention is that the text says that “if we do not stand by the goodness of God, we will also be torn off.”

And my question is, in the context of God’s severity, how can I stay in God’s goodness so as not to be torn down?

And an approximation to the answer is at the beginning of the Bible text: “and you, by faith, stand firm.”

In this text, what Paul tries to illustrate is that it is through faith in Jesus that we remain united to him and his grace.

It would require a much deeper study to determine what faith really is, because in today’s context it is certainly not just saying that “we believe in Jesus” since many people say it, but the presence of Him is not a reality in their lives.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness.

To the question, if God is love, can he also be severe?

The biblical answer is clearly yes.

Let us seize the opportunity now before us to accept his unconditional and infinite love.

Let us seize the opportunity to respect and have a holy fear for God’s severity, and not to play two sides.

It is time to decide for Him as we embrace and enjoy His sublime love.

For one day will come that those of us who do not accept his love will have to face his severity.

What do you think about these ideas? What is your opinion about the relationship between God’s love and his severity? Share it in the comments.

Leave a Comment