Proclaim. Mobilize. Equip.
Call 866-865-6253

You Don’t Want What You Actually Deserve

November 1, 2018

When was the last time someone said to you, “You deserve better”? Or when did you last think, I don’t deserve this…?

These are common statements in American culture. We’re told by the media, and by society at large, that we’re entitled to certain outcomes—and we’re easily convinced, for this belief runs in our blood. At the root of everything, from our private discontentment and grumbling to our public complaints, is a sense that we’re good and deserving and can judge our circumstances rightly.

But we aren’t, and we can’t, because sin has corrupted everything. We’re naturally blind to a right estimation of ourselves, and our sense of justice is skewed—which means we don’t actually want what we deserve. We will see that we have far more than we deserve only when we grasp the undeservedness of the gospel; and we will only look at ourselves and our world rightly, through God’s lens, when we respond to his kindness to us in Christ.   

God’s Overwhelming Holiness

To think rightly about what we deserve, we must start with God. Our flesh wants to make everything about us, as if the world revolves around humans. But creation tells a different tale:

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

If we pause to consider the grandeur of a starry sky, the delicate beauty of a sunrise, or the diversity of plant and animal life, we must confess that our lives are but a tiny blip in the radar.  

Creation shouts of our eternal God. Everything begins and ends with him (Romans 11:36).

God not only communicates his greatness through creation, he speaks through his Word. When he spoke to Isaiah, the prophet couldn’t stand before his holiness; he trembled before him, calling down curses upon himself (Isaiah 6:5). John, the beloved disciple, dropped as though dead when he saw Jesus in all his glory (Revelation 1:17). When we encounter God’s holiness through Scripture—when he speaks his perfect, true, pure words to us (Psalm 19:7-9)—we have no choice but to respond in a similar way.

The holiness of God will always be overwhelming to unholy sinners.

Our Offensive Sinfulness

As our proper response to God’s holiness is overwhelm, fear, and an inevitable sense of our inadequacy before him, so God’s proper response to our sinfulness is offense. This is a hard truth. That God is offended by us often offends us. But this is the only right response to sin.

A small child hitting his older brother is a very different offense than someone harming the President of the United States. The weight of the offense always correlates to the offended party.   

When we don’t acknowledge God’s overwhelming holiness and our indebtedness to him as his creation; when we rebel and sin against him; or, when we despise his way and desire our own, we greatly offend our holy God, and we’re blinded from seeing what we truly deserve for our sin.  

God’s Right Response

And what do we deserve? What does our offensive sinfulness warrant before God? His right and just wrath:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18)

When we push back the truth by worshiping anything but God, even ourselves, we receive what our idolatrous worship deserves. This feels harsh to us—but is it? If the weight of the offense directly relates to the offended party, then shouldn’t the response also correspond?

What we actually deserve is to be judged for our sin—we’re entitled to nothing else.

God’s Undeserved Kindness

If we want to call God’s judgment for sin undeserved, then what should we call his gospel? Isn’t the good news that God’s perfectly holy Son bore God’s wrath in our place completely unmerited? Isn’t the gift of his righteousness in exchange for our sin just that—a gift? Yes, and praise God for this! In Jesus, we’re given what we do not deserve so we’ll never get what we do deserve apart from him.

  • “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
  • “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1a)

Our Right Response

Now, as new creations, as we gaze upon God’s glory in the gospel, he renews our minds. Suddenly, the circumstances our flesh wanted to grumble and complain about are put in their proper place. And then we’re able to thank God with grateful hearts for all he’s done and provided in his Son. Suddenly, our desire to share this undeserved, good news with others heightens, as we hold out this amazing gift we’ve been granted by faith in Christ. Or, suddenly, we’re compelled to spend ourselves for the One who spent himself for us. Even when the spending is costly. Even when it means being misunderstood.

We deserve nothing—but we’ve been given everything. What good news! “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

The Author
Kristen Wetherell

Kristen Wetherell is a writer and Bible teacher. She has previously served as content manager of Unlocking the Bible. She is the author, along with Sarah Walton, of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017). She blogs at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter. She and her husband Brad are parents to their sweet daughter and son, and are members of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Ill.

Explore this topic further

How Do I Get to Heaven?

How do I get to heaven? The story of the thief on the cross makes the answer to this question crystal clear—this man had no works to offer, either before or after his salvation. His salvation was only by grace of God. A. W. Pink asks: What could he do?...

Read Post

Submit Your Dream to God

I held my rounded belly as I walked up the wooden, uneven stairs. We delayed their renovation until after the baby’s room was done. Almost everything was unfinished on the second floor of our house. The walls still had floral and striped wallpaper (and who knows what other colours underneath),...

Read Post
For your gift of any amount

Stay Salt

The World Has Changed: Our Message Must Not

Get Unlocking the Bible's Weekly Email

"This Week at Unlocking the Bible" features new articles, radio programs, devotionals, and ministry updates

We will never sell or misuse your information.

Share Your Story and Prayer Requests

If you have a testimony or story you would like to share or if you have a prayer request, please use the form below. If you would like someone from our staff to call you, please include your phone number.

We will never sell or misuse your information.

Get Unlocking the Bible’s Weekly Email

“This Week at Unlocking the Bible” features new articles, radio programs, devotionals, and ministry updates

We will never sell or misuse your information.



Order now