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Getting What We Don’t Deserve

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36 NIV

As the story goes, a mother once approached Emperor Napoleon, seeking a pardon for her son. The young man had committed a certain offense twice, and justice demanded death. However, the mother, undeterred, pleaded for mercy instead. She eloquently explained, "I don't ask for justice; I plead for mercy."

Napoleon, known for his stern demeanor, replied, "But your son does not deserve mercy." Yet the mother persisted, emphasizing the power of compassion over strict justice.

Moved by her plea, Napoleon relented. He declared, "Well, then, I will have mercy," and spared the woman's son from the harsh punishment.

Today's verse comes from Jesus' discourse in Luke 6:20-49, commonly called the Sermon on the Plain. Like the longer Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew, Jesus calls for us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. 

Rather than seeking revenge–giving others what we think they deserve–we are to demonstrate compassion and forgiveness and pray for their well-being. As God shows us mercy–giving instead what we don't deserve, forgiveness–we are to do the same for others.

If God were to give us what we truly deserved, our lives would be vastly different. In a world where we received what we deserved, we would face the full consequences of our actions. Every mistake, every wrong choice, and every sin would lead to just punishment. Our hearts would bear the weight of guilt, and our lives would be marked by suffering and separation from God.

Thankfully, God treats us far better than we deserve. His grace and mercy are profound. By His grace, we experience God's unmerited favor. In sending Jesus to atone for our sins, we have received the salvation we haven't earned. By His mercy, we do not receive the punishment we rightly deserve.

The story of the mother and Napoleon reminds us that sometimes, even when we don't deserve it, mercy can transform our fate. It's a powerful lesson in compassion and forgiveness that transcends mere justice. May we all extend mercy to others, recognizing its profound impact on our lives.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your mercy and grace, for giving us what we don't deserve. Help us to show that same mercy to others. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Deliverer. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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