Evening Vesper

In William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, the character Portia delivers a soliloquy that illustrates the playwright’s regard for the principles of mercy and forgiveness:

Though justice be thy plea, consider this:
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy.[1]
When considering the doctrine of election—that God “predestined us for adoption”—we need to ask not “Why would God not choose everyone?” but rather “Why would God choose to have mercy on anyone?” The truth is, if justice alone were served, we would all face condemnation, for condemnation is what our sin deserves. Yet in His love for us, God chose that we “should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He did not choose us because of anything in us (which would be the occasion for pride in ourselves) but simply because of the love that is in Him (which should cause us to praise and worship Him).

One effect that an understanding of our election has on us as Christians is that it compels us to take our sin ever more seriously, for the purpose of Him choosing us is that “we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4). In other words, while He didn’t choose us because we are holy, we have been chosen in order that we might become holy. There is something dreadfully wrong when a belief in the electing love of God results in our declaring the right to live in any way we choose. In fact, individuals who consistently, continually live in sin yet claim salvation show that they have not understood God or His gospel at all.

By contrast, the evidence that we have been chosen by God, set apart for Him, and ministered to by Him through the Holy Spirit is ultimately seen as we are increasingly conformed to the image of His Son. Growth in moral purity is the ultimate indication of a deep devotion to Jesus Christ. A genuine interest in and wonder at the electing love of God produces in us a conformity to Jesus’ own beauty.

What will we expect to see in the lives of people who truly understand this? Likely not bravado, self-centered talk, or empty defenses of the Christian faith. No—we will see humility coexisting with security, their conversation full of Christ instead of themselves, and lives of joy and sacrifice. That can be, and should be, what you see in yourself, imperfectly but increasingly. And that is what will grow in you to the extent that you say to yourself with a smile and a sense of awe, “It is not that I chose Him; He chose me.”

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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