Everyone needs mercy! Without mercy, people face intolerable circumstances, realized fears, overwhelming loneliness, and even death. In books and cinema, plots often hinge on decisive moments of power and weakness, where one pleads for mercy, and the other cruelly denies, or graciously extends, mercy. The tension between judgment and mercy is ingrained in humanity, and its roots are found in God.
God is both just and merciful. The two qualities are inseparable. You cannot throw out the element of His mercy and revel in His judgment, but the world is full with people who live to remind others of how bad they are and to pronounce self-righteous, eternal damnation. On the other hand, you cannot disregard the aspect of His justice. A God who only shows mercy is believed to welcome everyone into the Kingdom, regardless of their morality and beliefs.
In the beginning, God declared that the price for sin would be death. Yet, the first people sinned and set an unfortunate precedent. We cannot deny our personal responsibility for going against God, and we all face the kind of “death” that God’s justice requires—eternal separation from God in Hell. This reality makes me uncomfortable, because my acts of disobedience against God, and there are more of them than I can even remember, indict me before Him. There is nothing I can do to clean my slate. In Ephesians 2:1-3, this couldn’t be made clearer:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
Why do we need God’s mercy? Because without it, we are objects of God’s wrath. But again, God is both just and merciful. While inescapable judgment awaits the sinner, forgiveness of our sins and salvation come through belief in God’s only son, Jesus Christ. Ephesians continues in verses 4-7:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Those who believe in and live for Jesus are saved from their sins and have God’s promise that they will have eternal life with Him in Heaven. When you consider the mound of sin each of us has piled up, God’s mercy is incredible, unimaginable, and unfathomable indeed! Finally:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It is at Easter that we remember the very act of God which reconciled us to Him. God’s justice requires that our sins be punished; but God, through His Son Jesus Christ, took our place. When Jesus, who had never sinned, was crucified on a Roman cross, He was punished for our sins. After being buried in a tomb, He arose from the dead on the third day, overcoming humanity’s two greatest enemies: sin and death.
Not only does the mercy of God save us for eternity, it saves us from our sins now. God did not make us to be sinners; through relationship with the Lord and through the Spirit of God, He enables us to overcome the sins in our lives, to experience deliverance, peace, and joy.
The person who receives the mercy of God is the one who realizes that without God, he has no hope of salvation. The one who receives the mercy of God admits his sin, repents, and places his hope, trust, and belief in Jesus Christ.