In the previous section of Romans, Paul wrote of God’s sovereign power to save His people and of the inability of any other power to separate us from His love. But now, Paul is primarily dealing with the issue of election, or God’s choice. The apostle wants to show us that membership in the family of God has always been by God’s choosing based on His own will and purposes, not on man’s ancestry or anything he does.
In verse 9-15 God says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” To our human hearts, which automatically relate to God in terms of tit-for-tat justice, and to Paul’s Jewish Christian readers who had a historic law-based, merit-based perception of God’s relationship with them, this may seem unjust. But is God unjust? Paul responds, “Not at all!”
If God acted with justice everyone would be destroyed as told in verses 9:27-29. Even the people of Israel would merit the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah. But those who clamor for “justice” or “fairness” do not realize this. Instead they assume that there are some people who actually merit acquittal in the law courts of God. But that way of thinking is contrary to God’s. Because if anyone is to be saved, that is to be God’s people, it can only be as the result of God’s free action. For it is He who has absolute freedom to choose who receives His mercy and compassion; without regard to man’s desire or effort. It’s important to remember that we have no claim on God. And He is completely just in condemning everyone and saving no one. The amazing thing is not that some are lost, but that any are saved.
Salvation has nothing to do with who a person is or does. It is the result of God’s mercy alone. No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we obey, no matter how many good things we do in this life, it would not be enough were it not for Jesus Christ and His loving grace. On our own we cannot earn the kingdom of God no matter what we do. Any good works we do mean nothing unless they are accompanied by a complete dependence on Jesus. To accuse God of injustice, to believe that He condemns some unfairly, means that we fail to see that apart from His choice of some of us, none of us would be his people.
How wonderful is our God that He hasn’t limited His mercy to any one group. Not even to the group He called as His chosen people. He has shown mercy to every tribe, tongue, people, nation, class, age level, and gender. Divine choice doesn’t call into question God’s justice, rather it demonstrates His mercy. God wants us on our knees crying out to Him for His mercy. He longs for us to acknowledge that it is this mercy that has saved us. And how thankful are we to be chosen by God, and that His nature is to be tender hearted, loving, and caring to those He calls His own. Neither grace nor mercy can be demanded, they can only be gratefully accepted!