Mercy that doesn't make sense

This weekend our nation suffered yet another tragedy.  An Arizona Congresswoman was shot point-blank, several of her staff and a nine year old little girl perished. My first reaction after the initial shock of a senseless tragedy subsides is to pursue relentless punishment for the shooter, showing absolutely no mercy on his life.  I mean, honestly, if someone gunned down your wife or nine year old child can you truly say your immediate reaction is to show compassion and forgive?  Immediately the press and law enforcement made statements to the mental state, and some already seeing some reasonable expectations of a plea of insanity.

I began to reflect on this more and more about my life and  admittedly felt shame that my immediate reaction was “off with his head”. I am not making a case for or against capital punishment, but I was convicted that I felt that I did not deserve similar punishment for my sins against a holy and sovereign God.  I though to myself, I have never murdered out of cold blood, I am not a thief , surely the Lord would show greater mercy to someone like me, right? Wrong.

Praise The Lord for his overwhelming mercy to everyone who believes.  Scripture tells us that God is merciful and Just, simply because He chooses to even in our rebellion.

[18] Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:18 ESV).

So we take comfort that He graciously forgives. But that is no blank check for boasting before God of our righteous compared to other sinners.  We are all sinners, and in compared to the holiness of god we are nothing, nada, not a blip on the radar.

I challenge you to read Luke 18:1-8 and ask yourself which one am I?

[9] He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: [10] “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. [11] The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. [12] I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ [13] But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

So if you committed a relatively minor crime, were standing before the judge, and the next guy on the docket was the shooter at Arizona,  how would you plea? Would you expect greater mercy? Plea for mercy. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

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