In the Middle Ages, it was common to think of God as mean. He was often portrayed in art with a handful of lightning bolts. Jesus, by comparison, was always portrayed as nice, gentle, or even as a helpless victim. Sadly, some of these ideas remain. Paul had no such concept of God. He tells us in 2:4 that God is “rich in mercy” and in 2:7 that we have been shown the “exceeding riches of His grace.”
Think about that word “rich.” How much money does a person have to have before he is considered rich? It is not determined. “Rich” is not measurable except by comparison. To be considered rich, one must have more than the next person. Therefore, if God is rich in mercy and grace, that means that He has more than the next person. To be absolutely rich in mercy and grace, God has to have more mercy and grace than anyone.
The words in Greek are “plutos” (plutos, as a noun in 2:7) and “plousios” (plousios, as an adjective in 2:4). Our English words “plenty” and “plethora” are related to these. We could say that God has an abundance of mercy, or an excessive amount of grace. Frank Sinatra might say, “He’s lousy with mercy.” The Old Testament, written in Hebrew, spoke of God’s “hesed,” a word they only used for God which we cannot even translate. The traditional way we translate it is “loving kindness.”
God pours out His mercy and grace to us because He was to show Himself to us. The word “show” (endeixhtai) is in the middle voice, meaning that He is doing it for Himself. By His own will and for His own purposes, God wants to display in us His unparalleled mercy and grace.
God does judge, but He also loves and His love is beyond measure. When we only think of judgement and punishment when we think about God, we miss the wonderful blessing that we receive by knowing His mercy and grace.