(Caveat: You will notice that some of what you read will look doctrinally sketchy. I write it that way on purpose, simply to jar our thinking, just a bit.)
I love to hear about God’s mercy. Never tire of it, in fact, because God’s mercy and grace is my hope of everything good. How we love to hear about how mercy triumphs over judgment, and how grace is undeserved favour!
Recently, however, I’ve been thinking that if I am to really and truly let Jesus live through me, then, somehow, I have to give mercy and grace to people who sin against me. And I must do it freely and on purpose, just like he does!
I’d love it if it came as naturally from me as it does from him, but if it doesn’t, then I have to do it on purpose. As I heard someone tell me decades ago, if I build a box, then God will fill it. In other words, if I act lovingly, then I will eventually feel the love, and if I act in mercy, God will fill my heart with it.
Today, I thought about the words of Jesus in John 20:22-24 (King James Version):
“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”
I wondered if I would be more forthcoming with mercy and grace if I thought jesus would withhold forgiveness from them as long as I did. What if that person’s eternal salvation depended on my forgiving him or her? Would I be willing to hold on to unforgiveness toward someone and merrily go on my way to heaven, knowing that it was only through God’s mercy and grace offered through the blood of jesus that I’m getting there?
And, oh my, what if it is true that I receive what I give?
Really, what does a life of unforgiveness look like? Does it resemble Jesus at all? Is it a life worth living? Or is unforgiveness a chain we wear around our own legs, slowing us down, wearing us down, taking the fun out of everything?
I know what I’ve said here is, without doubt, doctrinally shaky. Certainly, incomplete. Thank God!!
But it sure gives me pause for thought.