Psalm 86:5 (CJB)
5 Adonai, you are kind and forgiving,
full of grace toward all who call on you.
Jonah 4:1-2 (CJB)
4 But this was very displeasing to Yonah, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to Adonai, “Now, Adonai, didn’t I say this would happen, when I was still in my own country? That’s why I tried to get away to Tarshish ahead of time! I knew you were a God who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in grace, and that you relent from inflicting punishment.
As we walk with others do we have the heart of Jonah? Even as we bring a message of forgiveness only limited by the receivers choice to cry out, to heed the warning, to change their course....Do we realize this applies not only to the one hurting in front of us...but extends to every perpetrator, every abuser, every one who has participated in their hurt? Do we consider this as we teach the principles of forgiveness and walk it out in our day to day lives. Do we consider that as Adonai is willing to forgive you He extends this same grace and mercy to all men, at all time and if they choose to turn they too can know this grace and forgiveness.
I was with a young woman walking through the princples of forgiveness struggling at this point. She played out all the scenarios of what forgiving her abuser would mean...releasing the debt, releasing the offense, releasing the judgement, relasing the right to the anger and holding the other accountable...trusting a Good, Just and Loving God to see Justice done...How can that be if there is a remote possibility that this same offer can be extended and granted to the one who caused so much pain? There is a risk in shifting the blame and being released from holding the other accountable. If I do not hold them accountable, if I do not pass judgement, if....then who will and where is the justice in that? Forgiveness is not the same as restored relationship but it is a prerequisite for walking in freedom.
Helping another unwrap and unravel the heart of the matter is trying and pressing and not always an easy path. Just as this young woman has to wrestle and seek the Lord on this matter for herself I too need to do a heart check. If I am going to spread a message of grace, compassion and mercy does it truly extend to "all"? Am I willing to forgive with open hands and open heart
May the Lord grow in us a heart of compassion that extends beyond our limited grace and mercy! May we be able to pray for those who have wronged us and release them from their debt!
May we carry this message of mercy and compassion into these hard places!