17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:17–19, NKJV)
Pride prevents repentance and salvation from sin. It is only when we realize the depth of our sin against our Father in heaven, that we become willing to entertain the thought of returning to Him in search of His compassionate forgiveness. God is always ready to give it. Just as a father whose child has wandered far away from him, wasting the blessings of the father’s love, God is always ready to receive and forgive the sinner who repents and abandons sin with a servant heart. There is no doubt that God compassionately forgives repentant sinners. The real question is, when we sin, will you and I humble ourselves before God, repent, and come to Him and cast ourselves upon His mercy?
1 Then Job answered and said: 2 “I have heard many such things; Miserable comforters are you all! 3 Shall words of wind have an end? Or what provokes you that you answer? 4 I also could speak as you do, if your soul were in my soul’s place. I could heap up words against you, and shake my head at you; 5 But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the comfort of my lips would relieve your grief.” (Job 16:1–5, NKJV)
Job’s friends not only gave him terrible counsel about the cause of his suffering, they spoke without comfort or compassion. Most of us long for the reassurance of comforting words when faced with the loss of a loved one, the pain of a disease or the uncertainties of life. Let us develop an ability to be sympathetic toward others, or even empathetic, when we have faced trials we see in others. Like us, others need a word of comfort and encouragement to strengthen them in moments of weakness (Matt. 7:12). We can increase our compassion toward others by living outside of ourselves, by actually pausing from our own hectic lives to see and respond to the needs of others. We will all face trials in life. Too bad all will not respond to those trials with words of consolation and actions that soothe the aching soul.
33 ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:33–35, NKJV)
Forgiveness does not necessarily come easy to us. Sure, we all want the mercy of forgiveness when we have sinned against someone. But, when the shoe is on the other foot, we are tempted with urges of pride, or anger, or vengeance or other sins that build barriers against showing mercy to those who hurt and harm us. In this parable (recorded in Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus make the unmistakable point that God will not forgive us if we refuse to forgive each other from the heart. Forgiveness requires humility, as well as an appreciation of the forgiveness we have received from the Lord. What a great way to be like our heavenly Father; to forgive others like He forgives us!
15 And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. 17 Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. (2 Chronicles 36:15–17, NKJV)
God’s compassion moved Him to warn Jerusalem and Judah of their sins. Early and often His servants, the prophets, spoke truth to a people who mocked them and refused God’s word. And so, God’s wrath fell upon Jerusalem and Judah by the hands of the Chaldeans (Babylonians). Now, by the gospel, God is calling sinners to repent and be saved from eternal wrath. Do not reject the gospel like Judah rejected the prophets. By despising God’s word, you are storing up wrath for yourself that will be unleashed without compassion on the day of judgment (Rom. 2:4-6). In Christ, God’s compassion is available now. Let God’s goodness lead you to repentance.
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:14–15, NKJV)
The fact that our great High Priest is exalted in heaven does not isolate Him from our deep need for relief in our struggles against sin. Although exalted on high, the Son of God is not hindered from understanding our feelings when we are tempted. We are exhorted to “hold fast our confession” for this very reason – that He has constant compassion for our frailty. Jesus has been tempted as we are. While He withstood every enticement, he refused every temptation, He knows the inward struggle that takes place when temptation happens. He offers “grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). May His ready compassion and steady love compel us to hold fast our confession to resist temptation, instead of letting go and sinning against our Savior.
8 The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8–9, NKJV)
God embodies the fullness of grace, compassion and mercy. He is longsuffering toward sinners, for He wishes our salvation, not our eternal demise (2 Pet. 3:9; Ezek. 18:32; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). The goodness God shows us is evidence of His mercy, and is an incentive to repent of every sin we have committed against Him (Rom. 2:4). Do not take God’s “slowness to anger” as indifference, toleration or acceptance of sin; it is not. Instead, find His merciful grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). His anger is stirred by sin. When God’s righteous judgment comes, there will be no escape (Rom. 2:3-6). Praise God for His compassion and mercy. Honor Him for His goodness. Serve Him with a ready faith.
1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? … 5 “He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.” (Psalm 15:1, 5, NKJV)
The righteous person’s values are as unshakable as is his devotion to have fellowship with the Lord God. He is compassionate, not covetous, and he honors justice. Unlike the modern sense of exorbitant interest, usury here is simply interest; the sum of money charged for a loan. The law of Moses prohibited charging interest to a brother and the poor among them (Exo. 22:25; Deut. 23:19-20). The one who abides in God’s presence lends without expectation of return (cf. Lk. 14:11-14). Neither does he profit at the expense of justice for the innocent. And so, mercy and justice are among the values recognized by God as worthy of His presence. In a world driven by greedy ambition, be careful to “do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).