Yesterday I had an experience that nobody likes to have. I was running my mouth on the phone while driving, which distracted me enough to not realize how fast I was going. We’ve all been there, right? To my great shame, I was doing about 18mph over the speed limit—63mph in a 45mph zone. And you’ve probably already guessed how I know how fast I was going. That’s right…a policeman clocked me on his radar and then pulled me over.
As soon as I saw the blue lights come on, several things were flashing through my mind. How fast was I going? How much is the ticket going to be? What is my wife going to say? What if he tases me?!
When the officer came up to my car and told me how fast I was going, my eyes got really big and my heart began to sink. This was going to be the biggest speeding ticket I have ever gotten. But then something really good (at least from my perspective) happened: he simply gave me a warning and told me to slow down. My eyes got even bigger then, and my heart began to rejoice. I told the officer, “Thank you!” and promised to slow down.
As I was driving away, I turned to Zachariah, my 4-year-old who was with me, and said, “Son, we just witnessed an act of mercy.”
I love mercy! Don’t you? Mercy happens when you don’t receive the punishment you deserve. It’s basically having your guilt overlooked. I was certainly guilty of a traffic violation. I deserved a ticket, but the officer overlooked my guilt and didn’t issue a citation. My heart and mind immediately went to thinking about God who has been merciful to us.
He certainly has been merciful to us, every person in big and small ways. But God’s mercy goes even further. You see, as far as the traffic violation goes, I was guilty when the officer pulled me over, and I’m guilty still. The officer didn’t remove my guilt. He simply overlooked it. But God cannot overlook guilt. Sin must be punished because God is perfectly just. Therefore, God did something amazing. He took all of my sin and guilt and imputed (charged) it to Jesus and took all of Jesus’ sinlessness and innocence and imputed it to me. Jesus paid for it instead of me and gave me the favor of God, which He had earned. That’s called being “justified,” which is to be made righteous or innocent.
Relating this spiritual truth to yesterday, it would be like the officer giving me a ticket with my name on it, then erasing my name and writing in his, and then going to the courthouse to pay the fine for me. That’s what Jesus did for all who will believe on Him. It only happens by grace through faith in Jesus. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Therefore, because of Christ’s work on the cross, I believe on Him and have been declared innocent. I am righteous according to God! This truth, of course, leads to gratefulness and humility and worship forevermore.
I want to say that I am certainly thankful for the mercy I received yesterday from the police officer, but even more, I’m thankful for the mercy that God has given me through Jesus Christ. Glory to God! May you turn to Christ and be washed white as snow.