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Divine Prerogative

Romans 9:15 (ESV) — For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”


As a parent, I’ve always been annoyed and amused when one of my children tries to tell me I “have to” do something. It is kind of cute. They have no authority or right to tell me what to do, how to do it, or when to do it, but anytime they attempt to assert an authority they don’t possess it is funny. Of course, it is funny unless it isn’t funny. If they try to tell me what to do or demand I do something when they have been disobedient or they are acting defiant, then it angers me. It angers me for the same reason it amused me before: they are attempting to exert authority they don’t have. 


Our passage today hints at this reality in our relationship with God. We often believe we deserve things from God. We assume God owes us mercy. Our culture lives with the assumption that we can live however we please and then demand God’s mercy. This isn’t how it works. 


In Romans 9:15, Paul writes, “For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’” God will have mercy on whom He has mercy. What does this mean? It means that God will have mercy on whoever He wants to have mercy on. He is under no constraint to offer or give mercy to us. We are sinful and undeserving people. We are in no position to demand anything from God. 


If we have received mercy, it should humble us. We should respond to God’s mercy with heartfelt praise and adoration. Who are we that God would show mercy? It is God alone who chooses to give mercy. We cannot demand it or wag our finger at Him to lecture Him about what He ought to do. We are only recipients of His chosen will. If that has included mercy for you, then give thanks and recognize what a gift that is. 

Reflection & Journal:

- Why do most people just assume God will give them mercy despite how they live?

- What does it reveal about God’s sovereignty that He can give mercy as He chooses, not under constraint?

- How should we respond personally to the mercy of God? What does it do in your heart today?

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