Mercy is defined as not getting the judgment one deserves. So let’s assume that you have a teenage daughter who went out with friends for an evening. You instructed her to be back home by 10 pm or lose driving privileges; she shows up at 11:30 pm. What would or should your response be? In order to teach her a lesson about obedience and responsibility, you should keep your word: suspend her driving privileges. Would you suspend her privileges if she says, “I’m sorry. I was having so much fun, I forgot to look at the time, and then on my way back, there was a road-block. This won’t happen again; please forgive me”? Maybe, maybe not.

God in His infinite love and wisdom clearly said to mankind (in the Garden of Eden), “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden- except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die” (Genesis 2:16-17 NLT). Man disobeyed (see Genesis 3:6). So what should God do, or how should He respond? God’s judgment stood: He threw man out of the Garden (man died; he lost fellowship with God). Later, God through the apostle Paul declared, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NLT). The free gift sounds good; it’s eternal life, but how do we obtain it? In the book of Acts, we’re told, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38 NLT).  Being holy, loving, and just, God will keep His Word to punish unless there is repentance on our part.

In other words, being holy, God will not co-exist with sin—the reason for separation from the sinner. His justice calls for restitution for sin, which, out of His love for man, He provided through the death of His Son, Jesus. So repentance is a game-changer; God honors His Word and forgives our sins, restoring our broken relationship.

If you’re a parent who’s been disrespected by a teenage child, you might choose to respond differently than other parents, and that’s okay. However, there’s only one way for God to respond to us in regard to our sins: either we repent and He forgives, or we don’t, and we die—become eternally separated from Him after this life. Repent now, and escape the punishment you deserve for your sins—experience God’s mercy today! Why today? Today is your day of salvation, because tomorrow could be too late for you.