The Hard and Soft Responsible Love of God

The Hard and Soft Responsible Love of God April 18, 2006

The Hard and Soft Responsible Love of God

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?

(Romans 9:14-21 ESV)

God shows mery to whomever He wants. His sovereignty shows itself in His mercy.

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

(Romans 9:16 ESV)

WILLS -> No one can decide on their own to receive God’s mercy. Mercy is a product of God’s will to love, not man’s will. One could say this is God’s will of command.

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

(Romans 9:17 ESV)

RUNS-> No one can run the world. No one can act alone. God’s mercy shows itself in His will of action. God acts to put people in power. God acts in this way so He can show His power and so He can show His name. (What is that name? – The name is of a God of all people – a God who loves.)

So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

(Romans 9:18 ESV)

Does Romans 9:18 mean that God has mercy on some and on others He hardens? Yes.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

(Romans 9:19 ESV)

But why? It is because some wills of action by God are based on our response to Him.

ILLUSTRATION:

MERCY —> WILLS | WILLS —> HARDENS

COOPERATION | OPPOSITION

Mercy is God’s will of action in the realm of cooperation. God shows His mercy to those in an anticipation of cooperation. When God shows mercy to His children to do His will, it is an act of “soft” responsible love. God is being gentle with someone because He knows there will be cooperation.

Hardness is God’s will of action in the realm of opposition. When God hardens His children to do His will, it is an act of “hard” or “tough” responsible love. God is pressing harder to shape someone because He knows there will be opposition.

Of course, we may question this kind of work from God. You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

Why does God act like this to me? But if God’s power is an act of His responsible love, then we should be cooperative, not in opposition to God’s will in our lives.

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”

(Romans 9:20 ESV)

It is as if God works with different types of clay. God’s children are the different types of clay. What kind of lump of clay am I? Am I a lump of clay that God can mold with soft hands? Or does God have to soften me? Am I so hard that God has to soften me? Does He have to be tough in His responsible love to make me learn? Does He have to press and push, so that I will soften up to His will?

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