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How much mercy is too much?
Galatians 5:13-18 …’the whole of the Law is summarised in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself”.’
When I see my sisters and brothers suffering the effects of sin, I can love them as myself by imagining myself in their place. If I were in their position, how much mercy would I want to be given? That is very different from asking how much mercy I would expect.
In desiring mercy for myself, I can dream bigger than my expectations. How much is too much? What might the Good Thief tell us (Luke 23:39-43)? He expected his death sentence from human justice but he received from God’s mercy what he dared to hope for – a place with Jesus in the eternal Kingdom (Terms and conditions did not apply).
Is it possible that God, the source of all mercy, could be less merciful than any human sinner? The idea seems absurd. It follows, therefore, that however much mercy I can show to another person, God could not possibly show less to me. This is how I am assured that my own sins are forgiven by the Father to the extent that I forgive my neighbour (Matthew 6:12, 15). So, how much forgiveness should I show towards my neighbour? Well, it is a question of how much I really long to receive from God. It is only human justice that places limits on mercy. Where human law condemns and exacts punishment, the Law of God simply says, ‘”Love your neighbour as yourself”’.