I bought something recently.
A cosmetic job had been done to disguise serious problems.
It’ll be an expensive fix but I’m happy to fix it… and to be honest I did anticipate that the problems might be there.
But suppose there’s been deliberate deception in this transaction. Suppose there’s been a quick stroke… what happens from Heaven’s perspective?
Here’s what happens.
So… I’ve suffered a loss and most of us would go after the seller.
Indeed, Jesus himself advocates making such an approach in the hope of winning back your brother. In other words, in the hope of saving your brothers eternal life! Matthew 18:15; Luke 17:3. Sounds serious doesn’t it? That’s just it – Jesus brings the seriousness of sin to a different level altogether, a level few seem to appreciate.
You see here’s the thing, whatever you or I might do to exact justice, believe me, it’s nothing compared to the justice that God will exact if there’s no true repentance.
Once a soul understands the severity of God’s justice the soul wouldn’t wish it on anybody!
I wouldn’t wish God’s justice on anybody – not so far in my life anyway – and therefore in the absence of the possibility of justice I will accept the loss, embrace it, pay the price involved, thereby becoming the means of the sellers salvation.
This is what it means to be merciful… there’s a cost, a price to be paid, and I’m willing* to pay it. In some small way I become a sharer in Christ’s work of salvation.
If, on the other hand, I don’t accept this loss, and I’m unwilling to pay the price involved – I’m not merciful – then somebody will have to pay it, otherwise the seller will lose eternal life.
Of course, Jesus Christ will pay it but don’t be under any illusions, paying the price is real suffering for Christ, not as a past event but in the here and now, and Christ will assume this responsibility only if the seller is genuinely sorry… and the seller will help himself hugely if he makes a real effort to right the wrong.
The more of an effort the seller makes to right the wrong the more he’s lessening the burden that Christ has to pay.
And the closer the seller gets to parity – actually righting the wrong – the more he’s actively increasing the possibility of his salvation.
Besides… why should Christ be left to carry the burden alone?
Remember too that Zacchaeus committed to pay back four times the amount and Jesus declared it a real sign that salvation had come to his house.
This is the meaning of those over-the-top, if not ridiculous sounding passages of scripture where Jesus suggests that if your hand should cause you to sin, cut it off, it is better to lose one part of you than to lose your whole body in hell! Matthew 5:30
Or the exhortation to settle with your opponent while still on the way to the court. Matthew 5:25; Luke 12:58
*This willing is about how I use my free will and it’s the critically important element.