Tuesday, July 11, 2017
The Compassionate Love of God
Mic. 7:18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over the transgression
of the remnant of your possession?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in showing clemency.
19 He will again have compassion upon us;
he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
While the people had been terribly rebellious, there was always the promise of forgiveness. If only the people would repent and turn from their evil ways, God would have mercy on them. The prophet Micah extols the gracious and loving nature of God who is willing to forgive , even after the terrible disobedience of God’s people.
God is exceedingly disappointed in the behavior of the people, but still shows great compassion and a desire to forgive. The prophet reminds them that their iniquities (which have been vile) will be tread under the foot of God. This is good news! And finally, their sins are cast into the depths of the sea, or as some early Church Fathers would say, into the waters of our baptism. In the waters of baptism our sins are left to sink in the water as we are raised up as new creatures. This is the incredible hope for a people who are desperately lost. There is a God of great love and compassion who continues to wait patiently for those who will turn around and run into the arms of the loving and forgiving Father.
The message of the prophet was to be heard on two levels. This was a message for Micah, himself, who was discouraged by all the he saw among the people. There was hope for his preaching and he was to believe that God could truly transform the people. Then, the words spoken were also for the people who needed to repent. The compassionate love of God was available for the transformation of their lives.
We probably need to hear this on two levels as well. All of us know those who have run from their faith and are living in a way which is not pleasing to God. This is painful for all involved and just as Micah carried a burden for his people, so we are to carry a burden for those who have wandered from the faith. This isn’t easy when they are disobedient and creating pain for many. However, consider the ways in which the people to whom Micah was speaking had been unfaithful. The vile nature of their sin was absolutely overwhelming and yet, God was promising to cast those sins into the depths of the sea. Have faith that God can reach that loved one or friend who has chosen to live in sin and draw them back into God’s holy presence. We always live with the hope of transformation.
If the direction of your life is currently taking you further and further from your relationship with God and you are wondering whether you have reached the place of no return, you need to embrace the compassionate love of God. God has not, and will not ever give up on you. No matter what we have done, God delights in showing clemency. God will cast our sins into the depths of the sea. We can go through the waters of baptism and be made new! This is the incredible hope found in the compassionate love of God who, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Cor. 13:7)
Don’t give up hope on yourself, or your loved ones. There is a gracious, loving and compassionate God who is constantly reaching out to us in grace and patiently awaiting our response.
Lord, you know the loved ones for whom I pray today. May your gracious presence touch them in a way in which they experience your compassionate love today. May I never give up hope, for you never give up hope. Amen.