Sometimes God is referred to as the “God of second chances”. In reality, we mess up our second (third, fourth, fifth…) chances as well, but God is still willing to bring us back to Him and restore us. All we need to do is ask Him, just like the psalmist in Psalm 85.
Now restore us again, O God of our salvation. Put aside your anger against us once more. Will you be angry with us always? Will you prolong your wrath to all generations? Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Psalms 85:4-7 (NLT)
Despite the grace that God has out-poured on our lives, we can be a little slow in extending that same grace to others.
Jonah is an example of this. He was not pleased that God changed His mind and decided not to punish Nineveh.
Why was he so consumed over whom God chose to forgive? Was he condemning them based on his own judgement? Did he not believe they deserved a second chance? Even God calls him out on it, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?”
Jonah 4:1-4 (NLT)
God felt sorry for the people of Nineveh because they lived in spiritual darkness (Jonah 4:11). As Jonah points out, God is merciful and compassionate. He loves His creation and is not eager to destroy it.
As Christians, we must pray for the same compassion and mercy for the people whom we meet that are in spiritual darkness. It is not our responsibility to judge and condemn them. That is God’s alone. It is our responsibility to show love and kindness.
You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
Romans 2:1-4 (NLT)
It is God’s “kindness that leads us to repentance” (NASB), or as The Message (MSG) puts it, “in kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.”
Are we showing kindness, tolerance and patience to those in spiritual darkness, or have we already condemned them and given up on them?
We have the opportunity each and every day to show God’s love and point people to Him. Judgement and condemnation are things that are final, and they make no room for second chances. God is all about second chances, and we should be too.