by Shea OakleyMercy, by definition, is not something we deserve. It is easy for us to begin expecting God to mercifully intervene every time we do something wrong. Oftentimes He does influence those whom we have wronged to extend grace in our direction. Those who have been Christians for any length of time have experienced this blessing and probably more than once. God does not treat us as we deserve and He has the power to influence others, even non-believing others, to also treat us better than we deserve. But sometimes he lets the hammer fall. When God does let us reap what we have sown, the best response we can make is to thank Him for the discipline, no matter how painful, and trust the perfect wisdom in His decision. We are tempted to protest to God that He somehow owes us release from the moral law of cause and effect. But this only compounds the causative sin if we make such an arrogant presumption. We presume to turn grace into something we merit and at the moment we do that we short-circuit it. Such presumption is prideful, and pride deservedly comes before a fall. At such moments of temptation it is a good idea to take a long, hard look at ourselves. If we engage in honest self-examination, what becomes apparent is that we are still sinners unable to redeem ourselves from our old nature apart from accepting the efficacy of Christ's death on our behalf. We have no right to expect the God of the Universe to clean up after our own messes, while agreeing with our false sense of innocence. No one likes to see his own sin. No one likes to have his sin shoved in his face. But it is sometimes necessary to our redemption and ongoing sanctification. Most converts will tell you that a conviction of personal sin was what caused them to cry out to Christ in the first place. It may be that an ongoing conviction of sin is equally important to keep us on the narrow road our Lord spoke of. True repentance is supposed to be something that marks our Christian life-and not just when we are first saved. No matter how painful it seems, the most blessed place for us to be after we have done wrong is in the place of contrition and confession. God loves it when His children take real responsibility for their actions and sincerely ask for His forgiveness and the forgiveness of others. Even if human beings, or the authorities they constitute, take what seems like harsh action in response to our sins, we can be assured that our God will abundantly pardon us even as He disciplines us. We can be assured of this by His very nature, the nature revealed to us by the cross. When God, in His mercy, lets us escape the worst consequences of our actions we should give Him great thanks, but we should do the same when He chooses to let us face those consequences. Because the God who died for us knows what's best for us.