It was a cold, wintery afternoon when I received the letter. This was back when people actually wrote letters. There was no return address – no indication of who wrote it. I scanned the letter until the words jumped off the page, “God has forgiven me, and I pray that you will too.” My heart stopped. Instantly, I knew exactly who this was from and what this was about.
I was filled with venom. I couldn’t believe it. How dare he! How did he think a measly letter would pardon years of hurt, pain, and abuse? I soon realized my anger wasn’t only targeted at him.
I raged wildly against God. How could You, Lord?!? How could You forgive the man who violated me? How could You make this man my ‘brother’ in Christ? I hate him, Lord, so You should hate him too!
I felt sick. I cried angry violent tears for days. I whined. I pouted. I ran far from church. The words of the Bible rang hollow and empty.
I was Jonah.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. – John 3:17
The irony is, I viewed the forgiveness of my sin as proof of God’s merciful love for me, yet I viewed this man’s sin as justification for God’s wrath towards him. I wanted a God in my own image – One who freely forgives me for anything but severely punishes my enemies for everything. However, that is not the God of the Bible.
This is God’s heart for all people – for all sinners – that not one person would spend eternity separated from Him in hell. God loves and desires to connect deeply with each one of us through the redemption of His Son Jesus. God pours out His unlimited mercy and compassion, not desiring anyone to perish. From the very moment one receives Jesus, they receive not only His forgiveness but also His perfect righteousness. Jesus makes one right with God, all at once and for eternity. This is the gospel.
The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. – Psalm 103:8-10
He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
I’m ashamed to admit that in my prideful anger and bitterness, I had decided that a person was not worthy of God’s forgiveness and mercy. My anger clouded the truth of God’s Word. I struggled to see the light of the gospel of Jesus.
When Jesus, our Good Shepherd, leaves the ninety-nine sheep to pursue the one lost sheep, it seems foolish and reckless…unless the one lost sheep is you. Jesus’ passionate pursuit of sinners defines who He is. That same passion should define God’s children as well.
… for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. – Luke 19:10
Even in my pain-riddled disobedience, the Holy Spirit relentlessly pursued me. His overwhelming love drew me back to Him. The key to true forgiveness in my life has been humbly meditating on just how much God has forgiven me. To keep from looking down on my enemies, I look up at the Cross.
When I view myself as superior to another, I remember that my right standing with God is based solely on Jesus and what He has done, not on anything that I have done.
When I meditate on Jesus’ torturous sacrifice on the Cross, I remember that His sacrifice wasn’t just for me but for everyone, including those who sin against me.
When I think of the gospel, I remember that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross. None of us is worthy of God’s unfailing love, yet He offers it freely to us all.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us. – Psalm 103:11-12
There will come that day when Jesus returns, and He will judge those who have rejected Him. But that day has not yet come. So until then, we must persevere in love…and love hard!
True Christian love doesn’t come easy. It’s a sacrifice that the world will never understand. If loving and forgiving people never cost us anything, we would never value the sacrificial love that Jesus has for us. The more we have of Jesus, the more we love like Jesus.
Love is not simply what God does. Love is who God is. Love offers Himself sacrificially and promiscuously without discrimination, without hesitation, and without judgment.
Jesus loved His Father and His people to the point of death. There is nothing that Jesus wouldn’t sacrifice in the name of love.
There is no place that Jesus won’t go.
There is no one that Jesus is unwilling to connect with.
There is no limit to the lengths that Jesus will go to reach the lost.
Jesus came to save!
- In what situation or circumstance are you in need of a heart that loves how God loves?
- How can we pray for you as you strive to live out the gospel of grace?
Peace and grace to you,
Terria serves on the LGG encourager and social media teams. She lives in Virginia with her husband. She is a proud mother of two beautiful girls in college. Her passion is igniting and empowering women to grab hold of God’s truth and cling to it. She can be found hard at work in military hospitals listening to patients’ stories, while sharing the love that God has poured out in her life. Despite the sometimes chaotic circumstances of Terria’s life, God always shows Himself strong and loving.
Friends, we would love your prayers and support! Love God Greatly is going to Germany! We are putting on a one-day women’s conference in Frankfurt, Germany open to ALL women in Europe as well as a two-day training intensive for our LGG European leaders and translators THIS SATURDAY.
One of our European translators said, “The training, as well as the community, is especially important because the “job” of a translator is very isolated and can be lonely and under attack. Through the training, we can share each other’s stories, see each other face to face and not only screen to screen. The training has to fit the country, meaning: Europe is very different than the US, has different challenges and cultural backgrounds.”
Please share the information below and tell your friends in Europe about our upcoming conference! We would love to meet them on SATURDAY!
Click here to find out more about our upcoming women’s conference!