Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God

Continuing my posts of patristic texts coinciding with this Sunday’s Psalm study.

Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
    and blameless in your judgment.  (Ps 51:4)

I was the agent of many crimes in Your sight.  Now, this is also a proof of my wickedness as well as confirmation of Your goodness.  If we were called to account and judged with one another, and if Your doings were to be displayed, I would always emerge as the offender and You always the benefactor.  I would next be condemned as an ingrate in everything and liable to the punishment now befalling me, whereas You would emerge as justly imposing it on me, so that no claim of mine would be justly directed against You if You were not prepared to overlook my sins in Your habitual loving-kindness.

Theodore of Mopsuestia

Despite enjoying many wonderful gifts from You, I repaid the gifts with the opposite, being rash enough to commit what is forbidden by the Law.* … I brought troubles on myself, whereas your righteousness is conspicuous: if the judgment of this kind passed on me by You is brought into the open, and my crimes set alongside it, You would emerge both righteous and loving, while I would appear criminal and ungrateful.

Theodoret of Cyrus

*  Theodoret adds: By this he does not mean he did no wrong to Uriah—in fact, he wronged Uriah and his wife—but the greatest transgression was committed against God Himself, who had chosen him, who made him king in place of shepherd, rendered him stronger than his foes, and showered on him goods of all kinds.

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