God is rich in mercy
I just recently had someone ask me, “So if a child rapist asks for forgiveness, God forgives?” The answer, of course, is yes. In our finite mind, this seems absurd. But we have to put this into the right perspective. God may forgive, but He still allows consequences. He may allow a person to receive the gift of salvation, but this doesn’t mean the person doesn’t go to prison. It doesn’t mean the person never has to face up to what he or she has done. In fact, God commands that we make restitution which is to do everything we can to make right those things we have done wrong. Nevertheless, it is very easy to think that God is too kind to the wicked. And that brings us to our Verse of the Day:
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
God wants us to be rich in mercy
Not only is God kind to the ungrateful and wicked, He commands us to do the same. And this is difficult. It seems wrong. It seems unjust. It seems right to hate the wicked, not love them. Of course, we know that what seems right to man is not always right and it can lead to destruction (Proverbs 14:12).
What God is calling us to by asking us to love our enemies is mercy. Mercy is the gift of love to those who are undeserving. The Bible says the wisdom of God cannot be attained if we do not exercise mercy. Look at this Scripture:
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
The wisdom of God moves us deeper and deeper into God’s plan of abundant life. The wisdom of God protects us, keeps us, moves us deeper into His love and His plan. Wisdom is knowing what to do in different situations. Each decision we make moves us deeper into God’s plan or further away. When confronted with loving our enemies or hating them, blessing them or punishing, God’s wisdom is merciful. But why?
As human beings, we tend to layer the goodness of people.
Some people are really good and some are really wicked and the rest of us fall somewhere in between. This is what we believe, but this paradigm goes directly against God’s perspective. To Him, people are either perfect or not, they are either without sin or full of it. We are full of it. Our sin is a rejection of God, an act of hatred toward Him. For God to forgive those who actively reject Him, He must be full of mercy. In fact, the Scripture says that God forgives because He is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4). The point is that we all need mercy.
We tend to diminish the hurt our sin causes the Lord while magnifying the hurt people cause us. And this distorts our thinking making it difficult to understand God’s kindness to the ‘wicked.’
Imagine if you broke into my house and assaulted my children. But then when I ask you, “How could you do this to me?”, you respond by saying, “I didn’t do it to you. I did it to your children.” Nope, that would not fly. If you hurt my children, then you have hurt me. Even if my child has turned away from me, for anyone to hurt them would be hurtful to me. This is especially true if I had instructed you on how to love my children ahead of time. Well, this is what God has done.
Every human being is a child of God.
They may be prodigal children, but they nevertheless belong to the Lord. He made them. He loves them. He adores them. And when we sin and do harm to another, especially after the Lord has given us Biblical instruction on how to love those He created, it is hurtful to Him as much as it would be if someone hurt my own children.
We think because we didn’t do it directly to God that somehow, He shouldn’t care. But that is not true. When we sin against another, we hurt God. And we then need Him to be full of mercy to forgive us for how we have hurt Him and others. To help us understand this, He commands us to be merciful to our enemies. Every time I forgive someone who has hurt me that I could have justified in my mind did not deserve forgiveness, I have a greater understanding of God who could have even more easily justified not forgiving me, but chooses to forgive anyway. This understanding draws me into a deeper relationship with God.
To withhold mercy, to justify retaliation, only creates a greater conflict and greater divide. It allows anger to set in my soul. It draws me away from God and His plan for my life. It is foolish to give up all the plans God has for me just to stay angry at someone who has hurt me. I am not punishing them by pushing God out of my life. I am only punishing me. This is foolishness. Why would I punish myself thinking somehow this will punish them. It will not.
Mercy transforms hearts and minds.
Retaliation creates a greater divide and increases angst, but mercy has the potential to radically transform the relationship. After all, it was His mercy for us that changed us.
Have you been able to forgive and give mercy to those who have hurt you? What is the hardest part? How has God helped you? Leave me a comment and let me know.
And if there is someone who is struggling with resentment or bitterness toward someone, maybe they need to read this little devotion. Like, share and forward it to someone who needs it.
Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!
Pastor Lee is a pastor and Biblical life coach. He has been helping people through counseling, pastoring, teaching, and preaching for 20+ years. His ministry focuses on helping people overcome the strongholds of the past and press on into God’s plan for an abundant life. He has been married to his wife, Amy for 28 years. He has three sons and one daughter-in-love. For more about Pastor Lee or to get some Biblical advice, go to the About page.