Forthright Magazine

Though You Are Evil

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11, NIV).

One sometimes wonders how people reacted to the words of Jesus. It behooves us to imagine ourselves in their shoes.

In the instance mentioned above, illustrating the supreme love of our heavenly Father, Jesus argues from the lesser to the greater. If human beings know how to love their offspring, surely the Father knows how to love His.

But Jesus took it a step further than absolutely necessary, referring to us as “evil.” The Greek word here can refer to life’s hardships, it can reference bodily ailments, but in the New Testament, it primarily refers to ethical evil. The context suggests Jesus utilized this last usage in describing us/humanity.

Drilling down a bit, the use of this word simultaneously does three things:

  1. It puts Jesus in a position above and separated from us. He does not include himself.
  2. It provides the most stunning contrast possible with God’s character as “good.”
  3. It offers us some hard medicine to take about ourselves.

Some hearers may have been stunned, offended perhaps. But is it false?

Jesus doesn’t assign all people the same level and type of intent, but he does imply that all human beings possess the same capacity for evil. It is important to consider that any violation of God’s will is evil. Not all sin is malicious, or of equivalent temporary consequence, but all sin is evil.

By contrast, God has neither the capacity, nor the will, at any moment, to do anything malicious of intent, or evil of practice; He can do nothing anything but what is inherently good (James 1:13).

This gives us the stark but comforting difference between us and our God. The point was not to make us feel poorly about ourselves as much as it was to give us supreme trust in the goodness of our God.

The point was not that we are so awful (we are redeemable, after all), it is that, as evil as any human may have ever been, God is that good, and infinitely more so

And that is a great comfort to His children.


Rick Kelley
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