“Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word. Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way. Then I will relent and not bring on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done.” (26:2b-3)
Grace. Mercy. Those probably aren’t the first words that come to your mind when you think of the Hebrew prophets. Reading about God’s wrath and impending judgment, it’s easy to see God as a heavy-handed judge who is eager to apply the full measure of the law.
But then you run across passages like this. “Perhaps they will listen,” God says to Jeremiah, so face the angry crowd that wants to kill you, stand up to the false prophets, deliver my message to the people. It just might be that those that hear you will repent and turn from evil and “then I will relent.” God is waiting patiently, giving them every chance to repent, because he wants to be merciful, he wants to pour out his grace on his people and not give them the judgment they deserve.
I struggle with grace, particularly when it is applied to others. God, why do you not punish those that do evil? They’ve done some really terrible things – how can you overlook that? I want to be the heavy-handed judge that gets to rain down fire from heaven. Of course, I struggle less when the grace is applied to me. I’m happy to receive God’s grace and forgiveness as I come to Him again, confessing a sin that’s plagued me over and over.
I was talking to a friend recently about ways to model God’s grace to our kids. My friend took the hard line: “they’ll see God’s grace in your love as you discipline them and teach them.” Perhaps he’s right, but there’s this nagging voice in the back of my head telling me that I’d be in trouble if God took the same approach with me. When God lavishes his grace on me, others that are watching might call it “permissive,” but I call it “amazing.”
Thank you, Father, for your amazing grace. I am so undeserving of your love, yet you pour out your mercy and forgiveness on me, and you’ve given me a purpose and a hope that goes beyond anything in this world. Help me to be a conduit of your grace to others; help me to reflect in my words and actions the grace that I have received, and help me to lavish that grace on others in a way that points them to you.
From the archives. Originally published August 21, 2009.