Christian Life & Discipleship

Where Mercy and Justice Meet

If I slap my friend across the face, how much trouble will I be in? Most likely I’ll have broken their trust, but depending on the kind of friend they are, they might not do much else. What if I slap my boss? I’d probably get fired, if not sued for assault. What if I slap the President, Prime Minister, or the Queen? I’d almost certainly get thrown in jail, if not shot on the spot.

What determines the severity or magnitude of the crime?

The amount of authority the offended person holds.

How much authority does God hold? An infinite amount! Therefore, any offence against God, even the “smallest lie”, is an infinite offence.

Am I infinite? Can I pay the cost for an infinite offence?

No. I am finite– limited. I cannot pay an infinite debt. Even if I gave all I had, even if I died, it would still not be enough.

But who is infinite? Who can pay this infinite debt?

The very One I have offended is the only One who can save me.

A debt I cannot pay

That’s why I can’t do it. That’s why all my actions, all my words, all my striving, and all I can give will never be enough. Only He can do it.

And He did. Jesus chose to take our place and died for us.

He paid our infinite debt and in doing so bestowed on us infinite worth.

 

Now He offers me this free gift of forgiveness and restored relationship with Him. It’s free for us, because Jesus already paid the price, a price we could never pay. Now we have this incredible promise:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)

How can God be just to forgive? Doesn’t justice mean the offender gets what they deserve, which is punishment?

 

The cross satisfied justice

Yes. Jesus took that for us. He died in our place, satisfying justice, so He could show mercy. At the cross, God’s mercy and justice meet, as He pays for what we deserve, so we can be forgiven and free, if we choose to accept it.

That’s the choice we face. He’s already done it. It’s past tense– finished. I can’t stop, reverse, or rewind it. This leaves me with two choices:

1) Accept it.  2) Reject it.

Part of me feels guilty accepting it, knowing how much it cost. Why do I feel guilty? Because I don’t believe I’m worth that much. But He already showed how He thinks I’m worth it by dying for me, even before I made any decision.

The problem with rejecting His offer is that it’s already been paid for. Jesus already paid the price, and that’s not going to change, even if I reject it. If I choose to reject it, then that means all He did was wasted.

 

There is no equal to Jesus’ blood

While I’d feel guilty accepting this gift, I’d feel even worse rejecting it. So I accept it, feeling humbled… but still I try to pay Him back somehow. Maybe if I try hard enough, be good enough, do enough good works, I can somehow make it up to Him.

The problem with this reaction is that I’m trying to pay for a debt that’s already been paid for.

This is insanity. If someone double-charged me, I’d want to get reimbursed. Yet here I am volunteering to pay the extra. It’s not necessary. As a matter of fact, it’s insulting! It’s like saying what Jesus did wasn’t good enough, so I have to add to it. No, worse, it’s like saying that my “good works” are equal to the precious blood of Jesus. And there is nothing that can equal in value to Him, because He is GOD!

 

Grace: a gift to be received

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT)

So what can I do? Grace cannot be bought or sold or earned. It can only be given and received. He’s already chosen to give it. Am I going to receive it?

Grace cannot be bought or sold or earned. It can only be given and received.

The only appropriate response is to accept His offer with all my heart. Then, live a life of loving Him and loving people, not because I have to, but because I’m so eternally grateful and overflowing from His love. Thank You, Jesus!