Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Other Side of Mercy

Most of us are terribly grateful when we experience mercy.  We're grateful when the sentence is lighter than we deserved, when we get a warning instead of a ticket, when our debts are reduced and we end up owing less than we know we should.  Yet there is another side of the coin of mercy.  There's the side of the victim, the innocent who was hurt by our crimes.  This post is about when you are the victim and the mercy is being given to the one who offended you.

It's hard not to feel outraged that this person receives less than they were due for the crime they committed.  It is hard to be grateful to God for the fact that mercy comes even to those who aren't repentant, who haven't been sorry for what they've done, who show no remorse and no intention to repent.  It's tough to stand there and watch as someone who has not only hurt you but then drug your name and your reputation through the mud while they tried to weasel their way out of punishment get the mercy you don't feel they deserved.  It's tough, but here's why we have to thank God for the mercy shown to the undeserving: We are all undeserving wretches who should be going to hell but instead are being offered unrelenting mercy.  We should thank God that we have a God whose perfection in mercy is equal to his perfection in justice.

If we forget that, if we reject the mercy shown to others and cry for justice instead, we should remember that God is as perfect in justice as He is in mercy.  He will give to us EXACTLY what we would have for others.  If we want perfect justice for someone who has hurt us, God will remember this and when it comes our turn to be judged, we will receive EXACTLY what we deserve - no more and no less.  I shudder to think at what that will look like, for I know myself to have sinned many times against many different people.  Do I really want God's perfect justice turned in my direction without his perfect mercy? I don't think so, for I know exactly where I would be going if it were.

So praise God for the fact that your enemy receives mercy rather than justice, and rejoice at the one who is set free when he ought still to be in chains.  Rejoice that you have a God who isn't interested in exacting every penny of debt you owe him, but who is willing to settle out of court for a far lesser punishment.  Rejoice that you have a God who lets you off with time served when you've done a terrible thing, even if you aren't ready to truly repent yet, because He knows that you will respond better to this treatment than you will to harsh punishments.  Rejoice, and be glad.  Our God is an awesome God!

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