“So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it” (Romans 9:16, NLT).

When I was a little girl, I watched the TV show “Bewitched” and wished I could wiggle my nose and make magic. Not only could I not make anything happen, I couldn’t even wiggle my nose without using my fingers. So much for magic. Unfortunately some see God as a sort of magical being whom we can manipulate or use spells to get him to do our bidding (insert legalistic works or special prayers). This simply makes Christians look stupid, God look silly or helpless and makes detractors laugh and jeer.

The truth is God is all powerful. He won’t be manipulated, coerced or influenced by anything we do to get on his “good side.” Our machinations on God have the same effect as wiggling our noses to make our vacuum cleaners move across the carpet. He loves all equally, showers his grace and kindness on all and shows mercy as he chooses, not capriciously or whimsically, but in his great wisdom and love. No nose wiggling—or any other kind of effort on our part—required.