A story is told of a mother who approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice and that justice demanded death. “But I don’t ask for justice,” the mother explained. “I plead for mercy.” “But your son does not deserve mercy,” Napoleon retorted. “Sir,” the woman cried, “it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for.” After considering the woman’s words, the emperor replied, “Well, then, I will have mercy.” The son’s life was spared (Luis Palau, Experiencing God’s Forgiveness, Multnomah Press, 1984).
This story provides such a clear example of a concept we often misunderstand – Mercy. To put it simply, mercy is when we are spared the punishment we deserved. On a spiritual level, there was a time when we were all in the son’s shoes. We were living a life of sin, had fallen short of God’s glory, and put ourselves into a place where we deserved death. Death was the “wages” that we earned from poor decisions (Romans 6:23).
Thankfully, God has not given us the punishment we deserved. We deserved death, but He offered us a chance at life if we would change and obey (Acts 2:36-38). God had mercy on us. As Titus 3:5-6 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
What an incredible blessing it is to receive mercy when we deserved death for our sins! Let’s be all the more dedicated and diligent to live a life close to the Lord. We owe Him our very lives.