How do you respond when you receive mercy or when you see mercy received by another? Mercy displayed often results in two responses: some who rejoice and some others who think it’s wrong for the first some to rejoice. How you respond has a lot to do with why you think God shows mercy, with what you believe His merciful motivation to be.
The ones rejoicing over mercy received or displayed know that the deserved sentence was canceled, and Yay! The burden was lifted, praise the Lord! The course of life altered for good, thank God! Rejoicers can rejoice because they believe that God wanted to show that mercy. Then as they freely received mercy, they freely and gladly give it.
The ones pooh-poohing the rejoicers likewise know that the deserved sentence has been canceled, the burden lifted, life altered. But the pooh-poohers believe that God showed mercy reluctantly, perhaps even resentfully. “Don’t the rejoicers know,” after all, “how put out God was that He had to show mercy? Don’t the rejoicers know how much they owe God?” If the rejoicers knew how bad they were and what it cost God, they would certainly settle down and take it seriously.
If that’s the right way to handle it, then we’re going to need to tell the angels in heaven that, when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10), they should calm down. Don’t they know what had to happen to Jesus for that sinner to be forgiven? The woman who lost her coin shouldn’t throw a party for her friends when she finds it (Luke 15:8-9), she should think about how to be more careful next time.
Mercy is not like property taxes. We don’t pay into a mercy pool and then watch God misspend our money on undeserving projects, let alone ones that don’t benefit us. No wonder we have such a hard time showing mercy, we don’t even like how God does it.
Mercy is His, He loves showing it to undeserving people, including you and me. He sent His Son because He loved us, the Son gave His life for us gladly, and the Spirit produces joy in us. That’s good news that warrants free rejoicing.