Once upon a time, Napoleon was approached by a son’s mother who asked him to pardon the son’s crime. Napoleon indicated the heinous nature of the crime that had been committed twice, indicating that justice demanded the death penalty. However, the mother indicated that she was not asking for justice, she was asking for mercy. At that point Napoleon granted mercy based on this mother’s request.
This story serves as an excellent illustration of the situation in which we all find ourselves. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Justice would indicate that we deserve to die because of that sin. Sin, death and separation would all be due us, as it would be our fault.
Despite the situation in which man put(s) himself, God provides mercy. Mercy can be defined as the withholding of that which is due. In short, through His mercy, God does not give us what we deserve. How is this possible with a just God? Justice, as it relates to God, rewards the faithful and punishes the sinner. How can God do this and maintain the attributes that make Him God? The answer is two-fold. First, God loves us and that love motivated Him to act on our behalf. Then, He provided that which necessary to satisfy His wrath; He sent His Son to die in our place (Rom. 5:6-8). In the vicarious death of Christ, God’s wrath/justice is served and mercy is extended through that blood.
We sing a great song, “Love Lifted Me.” When we were in sin, the love of God, manifested in His mercy, “lifted” us from the fate due our rejection of His will. May we reflect often on what has been done on our behalf that we may enjoy a heavenly reward.
Note: The illustration of Napoleon was borrowed from a sermon by Justin Imel)