How many times can God forgive you? I think sometimes we might feel there’s a limit, or that God gets tired of “dealing with” us. We might even think that someday He could just give up on us if we can’t get ourselves straightened out fast enough. But what does the Bible say?
It is because of Yahweh’s loving kindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassion doesn’t fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Yahweh is my portion, says my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (Lam. 3:22-24, WEB)
This doesn’t mean God winks at sin or thinks it’s not a big deal. “The compensation due sin is death,” and without His mercies we would be finished (Rom. 6:23, LEB). But the mercies don’t run out. Each morning we have a chance to walk with Him, repenting of past wrongs, letting Him work in our lives to make us like Him, and trusting in his loving kindness, compassion, and faithfulness to lead us into a hopeful future.
God Doesn’t Remove His Mercies
Our sins can separate us from God if we refuse to turn from them (Is. 59:2). When we choose to do things in a way that doesn’t line up with God’s way of life, we’re walking away from him. It’s unfaithful, like a wife cheating on her husband. But, unlike many human spouses who’ve been cheated on, God keeps asking us to come back.
For Yahweh has called you as a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even a wife of youth, when she is cast off,” says your God. “For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercies will I gather you. In overflowing wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting loving kindness I will have mercy on you,” says Yahweh your Redeemer. …
For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but my loving kindness will not depart from you, and my covenant of peace will not be removed,” says Yahweh who has mercy on you. (Is. 54:6-8, 10, WEB)
God’s loving kindness never leaves us. He wants us all to accept His mercy and choose life with Him. And He doesn’t give up on that goal. In fact, as we talked about in last week’s post, His loving kindness and goodness pursue us. We can be confident “that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6, WEB).
God Wants To Be Merciful
When Yahweh, to use God’s proper name (Ex. 3:14-15), spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, one of the things He did was proclaim His name. In Hebrew thought, a name has to do with your reputation. When God “proclaimed Yahweh’s name” (Ex. 34:5), the words that go along with it describe who He is and how He wants to be known.
Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, “Yahweh! Yahweh, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth, keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, on the third and on the fourth generation.” (Ex. 34:6-7, WEB)
Even in the Old Testament, Yahweh was known for forgiveness, mercy, and loving kindness as well as justice. And now with Christ’s sacrifice, the guilty can be truly cleared so they are no longer under a death penalty. We have to repent, believe, and accept Christ’s sacrifice, and once we do that we enter a relationship with the Lord who is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Pet. 3:9, KJV).
Know therefore that Yahweh your God himself is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with them who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations, and repays those who hate him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack to him who hates him. He will repay him to his face. (Deut. 7:9-10, WEB)
As a God of justice, Yahweh won’t let people get away with stubbornly continuing in sin. It is those who enter covenant with God and stay faithful to Him who enjoy His loving kindness, not those who hate and rebel against Him. However, as the writer of Hebrews said, “we are persuaded of better things for you, and things that accompany salvation, even though we speak like this” (Heb. 6:4-9). The fact that you care about God and want to follow Him matters. He will keep renewing His mercies and working with you as long as you keep coming back to Him.
God Is Teaching Us Mercy
Part of walking in covenant with God involves becoming like Him. That involves developing His character, including being “merciful, even as your Father is also merciful” (Luke 6:36, WEB).
He has shown you, O man, what is good. What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Mic. 6:8, WEB)
As recipients of God’s everlasting kindness and His bountiful store of mercies, we ought to let what we have received pour out of our lives. We need to have the same character traits in us that we see in God, and treat others the way that He treats us.
Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. (Col. 3:12-13, WEB)
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