When the ringleader of his grandmother’s killer was sentenced to death, Bill Pelke and the rest of the community cheered the sentence. It was an appropriate sentence for the one who had led the way in a brutal murder. Then, Mr. Pelke thought about his grandmother and how much she meant to the family. And he thought about how much the murderer meant to her family. He decided that his grandmother, as a follower of Christ, wouldn’t seek vengeance, but would forgive, and he realized that he needed to forgive this lady who had killed his grandmother. That decision brought healing for both Mr. Pelke and the murderer. After making arrangements, he had a chance to meet with the lady and express his forgiveness in person. He was showing God’s mercy to one who didn’t deserve it.
Perhaps that last sentence is a bit redundant because no one deserves mercy. Think about it. What good deeds, and how many of them would be enough to put someone in the position of deserving mercy after committing a murder? The sin is too great; the mercy is undeserved and yet, by showing mercy, healing comes. God is merciful. He shows mercy in many ways. But He is sovereign in showing mercy. Paul described God’s mercy by noting what He said to Moses. “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:15-16)
Our relationship with God depends on His mercy. We can do nothing ourselves to make us worthy of God’s mercy. God doesn’t desire sacrifices, church attendance, good deeds, money given to church or other worthy causes; God wants our hearts. I know of people who think their sin isn’t “too bad,” especially when compared to the sin of someone like a murderer. Yet our sin required a sacrifice from God. Jesus Christ had to die for my sin. It was my sin that put Him to death. How could any sacrifice or any other activity put me in the position of deserving God’s mercy? It can’t. God shows mercy on whomever He desires; He has compassion on whomever He desires. That is the prerogative of God. In the Old Testament He chose the Jewish people on whom to show mercy. He still extends mercy to the Jews. He can because He wants to. If He wants to stop, He can do that, too. In our days, He shows mercy to those who are in Christ Jesus.
How does one come to know Jesus and gain God’s mercy? There’s a lot of debate in Christian circles. Ultimately, though, there comes a time when a person recognizes that he or she is under the mercy of God instead of His condemnation. I believe that because God has shown me mercy and compassion, it’s my responsibility to show others God’s mercy to lead them to accept that mercy. Sometimes people do turn to God; other times they reject Him. I fully believe that they do this because God draws all people to Him to experience His mercy, but that He also gives man the freedom to reject it. Others would say that He chooses some to experience His mercy while others do not get that experience. Whatever your view – if you have obtained God’s mercy, you didn’t deserve it. If you have obtained God’s mercy, you should show it to others – not because it will make you worthy to receive God’s mercy, but because being made in God’s image, we want to respond towards others as God would. My job, my calling, is to show and tell others of God’s mercy through Jesus Christ. I don’t know why some will respond to God’s mercy and others will reject it. That’s not my call. I don’t determine who receives God’s mercy – that’s God’s job. I just gotta keep showing it to others.
Lord, help me to be a beacon of Your mercy to those who need to see Your mercy.