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The sun shines on the righteous

Chick Yuill looks at what some people think Christians believe

Good things happen to good and bad people alike

I FIND it fascinating how frequently people – even those who don’t reg­ularly read it – make statements about the Bible or even quote words and phrases from it, sometimes without real­ising. What’s even more interesting is how often they get it only half right.

You could argue that being half right about the Bible is better than completely ignoring it. But the problem is, if you get something only half right, inevitably you get it half wrong! And half wrong all too often means that you end up missing the truth completely.

Take, for example, the comment you hear when someone tells of some good news that has come their way. Often someone else will respond with a smile: ‘Well, the sun shines on the righteous.’ Their meaning is clear: ‘It has happened to you because you’re good. You deserve it.’ And that may be true in any particular instance. But it isn’t what the Bible says.

The phrase actually comes from one of the sayings of Jesus, and it’s worth check­ing out his precise words: ‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous’ (Matthew 5:43–45 New International Version).

On one level Jesus is stating the obvi­ous. Good things happen to good people and bad people alike. The God who created the universe doesn’t discriminate between righteous and evil people. Everyone benefits from his generosity as displayed in the pro­cesses of nature.

But, beyond that, Jesus is challenging us as to how we should live. We should take our cue from God. If he offers his love to everyone unconditionally, so should we. We should love those who would make them­selves our enemies and forgive those who do us wrong.

Now that’s the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

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