When I teach on the grace of God, people are always concerned that God might not realize people like to work the system or find loopholes. They make statements like, “God won’t allow people to get away with sin” or “They will only be forgiven as they forgive.”
I understand this. When we stare into the enormity of God’s grace, we feel like God could be abused. We don’t want God who is a push-over, promoting some form of sloppy agape or cheap grace.
Jonah thought this too.
When asked to bring a message of repentance to the Ninevites, he ran and refused to give it. He knew if the people believed it, God would forgive them. Jonah did not feel this brutal people who were enemies of Israel deserved this. His thoughts may have gone a bit like this…
“God, you want me to go and tell them how to receive mercy? They don’t deserve it. If I share and they believe, you will forgive them. No, they deserve justice. I want to protect you from making a bad decision, so I won’t go.”
Does God need us to protect Him from extending grace and mercy, even though people might abuse it?
From Scripture, we see God is much more concerned about extending mercy than protecting His reputation.
King Ahab led a horrible life and history considers him one of Israel’s worst kings, yet the moment he shows any repentance, God postpones judgement (1 Kings 21). God does not launch an investigation into motives.
The thief on the cross was not grilled by Jesus as to the sincerity of his heart, instead Christ welcomed him into his kingdom.
On and on it goes.
God is not concerned with us “tricking” him In fact, I would say He already knows we will attempt to abuse the system.
God is more concerned with even the slightest, however corrupted, response towards repentance and thereby towards Him; than He is afraid of having his system “worked” or “manipulated. His loving kindness seems to outweigh his need to keep a “good appearance.”
The next time the temptation comes to “defend” the honor of God, consider God might rather extend mercy.
In fact, when you find yourself wishing someone would get what they deserve, look in the mirror.
The gospel is the opposite. We all deserve hell. Your and my sin is equally deserving of judgment and punishment as Ahab, the Ninevites, or the thief on the cross.
The gospel is not about getting what we deserve. The gospel is not about being fair. We receive the gift of grace which we have not deserved or earned. Its free and it’s not fair! That is the scandal of grace.
God’s desire to show mercy outweighs his worry that someone might attempt to work the system. We would extend judgment and consequences much faster than God.
That is why He is in charge and we are not.
God does not need protecting. He is a big boy and can handle His own reputation.
The next time we face a temptation to drop the hammer of judgment, let’s consider how God has treated us.
Photo By: Carlos Luz