Romans 11:31 “So they (the Jews) too have now become disobedient in order that they may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.”
“Disobedience” here is not just sin. It is the complete rejection of God in unbelief. Who, we might wonder, wouldn’t want the mercy of God that we find in having Jesus as our Savior? Who wouldn’t find free forgiveness and guaranteed heaven appealing? Who wouldn’t want to live every moment of every day confident that God is on your side in good circumstances and in bad, making sure that all of it ends with you at his side forever?
Plenty of people, it seems. The Jewish people had a long history of running away from God in favor of something else. Sometimes the idol-religions of their neighbors looked more appealing. Sometimes they just wanted a prosperous life now. In Jesus’ day they didn’t want the shame and humiliation of admitting their sin and their need for a Savior. They wanted the pride of being able to say that they had conquered sin and laid their claim on heaven all on their own. Though once they had been the particular people to whom the Lord had revealed his mercy, by Paul’s time they had become a people who don’t have it anymore.
And their example serves as a warning to people like you and me who have God’s mercy now. It is so easy for us to look down on people who have lost their way, or maybe never got on the right path in the first place. It’s so easy for our tongues to start wagging in self-righteous condemnation of their ungodly points of view and their self-indulgent lifestyles.
It’s so easy to be lulled into forgetting that we are what we are, and have what we have, only because God has shown us his mercy. Certainly we don’t stand in praise of unbelief and ungodliness. But our sins are no less in need of God’s grace. Our future is no less dependent on his sacrifice. Our faith is only the result of his mercy. And to forget that is to stand in danger of losing his mercy ourselves.
Their example also reminds us of one more reason that God has revealed his mercy to us now: “…that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you.” Like the Roman Gentiles in Paul’s day, you and I serve two great purposes in God’s plan to show mercy to those who don’t have it now, whether Jews or others. We are the keepers of God’s mercy, the preservers and protectors of the saving gospel which alone can bring people relief from the misery of their sin. As people who know and believe that message ourselves, we are keeping hope alive for those who still need to hear it.
And we are the sharers of God’s mercy, the only ones God can expect and rely on to introduce Jesus to someone else. The other world religions aren’t going to do it. It isn’t the government’s job to spread the good news. Business and industry are interested in something else. Only those who know God’s mercy are equipped to share it with a world that may not be dying to hear it, but that will certainly die without it.
Be someone’s introduction to God’s mercy today!