Justice or mercy?

Dr. Sproul had given his class of 250 students an assignment with a warning that they would receive an “F” if not turned in on time. On the due date, twenty-five anxious students arrived without their papers and begged for an extension, which Dr. Sproul granted. The next month another assignment was given and, on the appointed date, fifty sheepish students came to class without their papers. After hearing their excuses and pleas for mercy, Sproul relented a second time, stipulating that it would be the last extension he would grant.

Nevertheless, by the third assignment, one hundred students “strolled into the lecture hall utterly unconcerned” that they hadn’t completed the work, telling the professor, “Don’t worry, Prof, we’re working on [our papers]. We’ll have them for you in a couple of days, no sweat.” When Dr. Sproul began recording F’s in his gradebook, the students bellowed, “That’s unfair!”

“You think it’s not fair?”


“I see. It’s justice you want. If you insist on justice, I’ll not only give you an F for this assignment but for the others you turned in late as well.”

After a period of stunned silence, the students apologized, gladly accepting the “F” for the late assignment. Sproul’s story illustrates that what we really want from God is not justice, but mercy.

– Extracted from The Justice of God by Regis Nicoll (quoting R.C. Sproul from his book, The Holiness of God)

Be careful of what you ask for.

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