It Rains on the Just & Unjust
Some people love going to yard sales. Some people love having yard sales. I don’t really belong to either of those categories. But, you know what my family did today? We had a yard sale! It was one of those mini-flea market type setups by the road, that’s there every weekend. So, we thought we’d try trading some of our no-longer-wanted and no-longer-used items for some easy cash.
It was a beautiful cloudy day with a light mist in the air. The trusty radar showed all rain activity passing just south of us, and we were in the clear. In fact, within a couple hours of tending our tradepost, it was starting to get warm. Like, should have put on shorts warm. Then, like sweating through your shirt and should have applied more deodorant warm. It wasn’t even lunchtime yet. My wife and I decided she should take our girls to the house to cool off and get something to eat while I manned the station.
Soon after they left, I began to notice a cool, refreshing breeze. My neighboring tenants and I began to give thanks and ask for more breeze. To my delight, the wind continued to fan us for the next half hour or so. As the traffic flow slowed down, I decided to start reading. Now that I was comfortable and re-energized for the next shift, it began to sprinkle lightly. Then, directing our attention to the sky behind us, we saw the rain was imminent. Within a few short minutes, we were scrambling to cover our tables and roll up our car windows as we were now in a downpour. (I got the electronics covered, but it was too late for the books.)
When it rains, it pours.
This all reminded me of a phrase that’s often passed around Christian circles. Whenever someone is complaining about their circumstances or asking why life is unfair, we hear the familiar sympathetic words “it rains on the just and the unjust.” In other words, bad things happen to everybody. Encouraging, right?
While this phrase does find its origin in scripture, I’d like to point out that if you’ve heard it used similar to the example above, you heard it misused. Not surprisingly, that’s what generations and hundreds of years of cultural change can do to our understanding of scripture. More on that in a bit. Let’s first look at the proper context of this verse.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor 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.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:43-48 NIV
Here, we see Jesus is talking about loving your enemies. Why? Because God loves your enemies. He causes the sun to shine on those who are good and on those who are evil because He loves them both. He sends His rain on the just and the unjust because He loves them both.
Furthermore, consider the similar language found in Zechariah:
Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime; it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms. He gives showers of rain to all people, and plants of the field to everyone.
Zechariah 10:1 NIV
In today’s busy culture of go here and do that, and my plan’s this and next week’s that, we automatically take “rain” to mean a bad thing. But, remember where Jesus and his audience (and most of our Biblical settings for that matter) are at this point: the Middle East. Where it gets dry, hot, and dusty. Still, ask any farmer today and they’ll tell you rain is a blessing.
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.
This verse tells us that the blessings are often raining down, but only some land drinks it in while another land may simply let it run off. Not only should we learn to recognize the nature of God’s mysterious ways and His abundant blessings in our life, but we should soak it in and allow it to spring forth life and produce His purpose in our life (everyone likes a good shower). (Also see Acts 14:17)
[pullquote-right]Seek the Father’s heart in all things, and you’ll begin to see His blessing in all things.[/pullquote-right]Yes, sometimes we get a little rain on our parade. And yes, bad things happen to good people. But, the moral of my little story today is to recognize God’s goodness. Remember, that rain that had us scrambling is the same rain that brought that beloved breeze we were so thankful for. Know that today He causes His sun to shine on you. Seek the Father’s heart in all things, and you’ll begin to see His blessing in all things. So, throw on your rain boots, jump in some puddles, and dance in the rain!