THE GOSPELS 28
GOD’S MERCY COMES AT A PRICE
I think it is significant to note that Jesus, when asked about the requirements for eternal life, always summed them up as, “Love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself”. In Mark 12, Jesus said the greatest command was to love God, and the second was to love your neighbor as you love yourself. He said there was no greater command than these. According to Jesus’ teaching it is obvious that, in using the word neighbor, He did not mean someone who lives next door. Rather did He consider everyone that I encounter on the road of life to be my neighbor. Read the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10).
The significance of this is that God expects me to do all I can to make it possible for every creature to fulfill the purpose for which God created him. Our mission efforts are not to keep the heathen from going to hell, but to make it possible for him to know God, and to fulfill the purpose for which God created him.
In the light of this, then, I want you to give careful consideration to the condition which God has placed on extending His mercy to us. In the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:12), Jesus says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us”. At the end of the prayer, for emphasis, He says that if we forgive, God will forgive us, but if we do not forgive, He will not forgive us. In other words, God will treat us the way we treat the rest of His creatures, whom we meet on the road of life.
In James 2:13, the solemn observation is that, “Judgement is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy”. In Matthew 18, Jesus told the parable of the servant who was forgiven a debt by his master, but who refused to forgive one who owed him a debt. The master threw him in prison until he had paid all, and
Jesus said that God would do the same for us, if we refused mercy to our fellowman.
These solemn words ought to make each of us aware of the debt of love we owe to all of God’s creatures, because of the love and mercy He has shown us. This is why Jesus commanded us not to judge. He did not mean we should not judge between good and evil. He meant that we should not make harsh judgements about the behavior of others, when we are in need of much mercy from the Father for failures in our own lives.
What a powerful weapon for unity it would be if the love of our fellowman caused us to try to see the world through his eyes, and make allowances for our differences, instead of drawing lines of division which make our opinion the standard for our fellowship. Mercy, upon which all of us depend for our eternal hope, is only offered to us if we replace our personal feelings and comfort with a genuine concern for the welfare and salvation of others. God does not love just the nice, smart, friendly and pretty of this world. If He did, many of us would be without hope. But if He loves the unpleasant, can we afford to do any less?