When you ask Christians why God chose to save, you might get a variety of answers. Some will say it’s because of His love for us. Others will say, “No! It’s for His glory!” Much of the problems in theology are due to an imbalanced view. Those who retort the latter phrase do so because they want to highlight that ultimately and supremely, God does things for His glory. But by denying the fact that God saved us because He loved us, those who are zealous for God’s glory might minimize His love. The true answer is both. And we see that in Psalm 25:
6 Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!
The psalmist, asking for mercy, appeals to God’s steadfast love. He knows that God is loving, and when He shows mercy it is an outpouring of His steadfast love.
The psalmist also asks that God would be merciful for the sake of His goodness. Now, this is not to say that by being merciful, God becomes more good—God is already perfectly and infinitely good. What this means is that God’s mercy highlights His goodness. When He shows mercy, it’s like putting the perfect diamond of His goodness against a black felt. It magnifies His goodness and His glory.
So, why does God show mercy? Why did He send His only Son to die on the cross for sinners like us? It was according to His steadfast love and for the sake of His goodness.
What shall we say, then? Does God’s pouring out of wrath on unrepentant sinners compromise His goodness? Μὴ γένοιτο! It is good to show mercy. It’s also good to serve justice. God perfectly shows His goodness both by showing mercy on Christians and wrath on unbelievers.