God's Redemptive Love

by Upper Room Administrator on Sunday, October 26, 2014

            It is human nature, I guess, to want to feel like we're better than others.  Something in us compares ourselves not with our Savior, whose standard of perfection we can't even approach, but with those we consider to be worse than we are.  How nice it is to feel superior!  Jesus was well aware of this tendency and specifically warned us against it, as quoted in Matthew's gospel in today's reading.

 

            As I mentioned in my meditation, I worked for many years in prison ministry, and one of the greatest joys in retirement is being a volunteer facilitator for a weekly Bible study at a medium security men's facility.  Ironically, even within many prisons there is a de facto hierarchy among the prisoners based on the crime each has committed.  "Sure, I broke the law, but I'm nowhere near as bad as that guy!" is occasionally their attitude, though it seems to be less prevalent in those who know Christ.  It is for good reason that the chaplains tell volunteers not to ask the men why they are incarcerated.  Besides being rude, it may tempt us to "rank" them in some fashion.

 

And really, being judgmental is nothing new.  Thousands of years ago, God instructed Jonah to warn the people of Nineveh of the impending doom they faced because of their sinfulness.  What was Jonah's response?  He ran away.  Now we could understand it if Jonah fled because he feared the people and wanted to avoid confronting them with their sin. They might  hurt him!  Who among us hasn't at one time or another avoided speaking up when we should have done so, due to fear—real or imagined? Or perhaps if Jonah, like Moses, felt inadequate to the task he might have wanted to escape God's assignment.  But that wasn't the issue.  His reason?  “…I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God…a God who relents from sending calamity.” (Jonah 4:2 NIV)  Like some today who would rather violent criminals be left in their sin than be healed by Christ, Jonah wanted no part of God's redemptive plan for the people of Nineveh.  Ouch!

In contrast, hear the beautiful words written by Gloria Gaither.  The song is titled I Then Shall Live and sung to the tune Finlandia, the melody used for the beloved hymn Be Still My Soul.  Go ahead, sing it out!  Her first verse reads:

I then shall live as one who’s been forgiven;

I’ll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.

I know my name is clear before my Father;

I am His child, and I am not afraid.

So greatly pardoned, I’ll forgive my brother,

The law of love I gladly will obey. *

 

            What a great statement of God's sacrificial love for us—that  we don't look to others hoping we can find fault that will make us look good by comparison, but that we understand, as much as humanly possible, the horror of our own sin and the cost Jesus paid to allow us to be reconciled with the Father.  When that realization hits home, I think we'll find that we will run towards opportunities to share the redemptive love of God, not run the other way.

 

- Lisa Stackpole

 

*Text © 1981 Gaither Music Company. Music © Breitkopf & Hartel (Outside U.S. only). All rights reserved.

33 Comments

Comment by Bob of Elgin, IL

You are so right, Lisa. We seem to learn early in our life to compare (judge) people -- including ourselves. But that is what is so amazing about grace offered by God. We can see ourselves -- and others -- made whole. Thanks be to God!

Posted October 25, 2014 at 07:57PM CDT
Comment by Lu of Corning, CA

What a lovely praise song, Lisa. Thank you so much!! And thank you for your thoughtful, perceptive devotional and blog. Full of truths and encouraging! Bless you and Praise Be To the Lord.

Posted October 25, 2014 at 09:09PM CDT
Comment by Tom of Canal Winchester, OH

I have always been impressed in my soul by the fact that God has forgiven me of my sins; and as written so perfectly in the song lyrics "I then shall live as one whose been forgiven" an amazingly perfect mantra for our lives.
Bless you, Lisa, for the caring and compassion you have shown over the years to those who need to "see" God's love.

Posted October 26, 2014 at 03:52AM CDT
Comment by Lydia of Cumming, GA

What a beautiful message and what an inspiring song! May the impact of God's love and grace help us show his love to others. Thanks, Lisa, for sharing your experiences.

Posted October 26, 2014 at 04:49AM CDT
Comment by Robert of Forest Park , GA

Thank you for a needed message! It will be food for thought throughout my day.

Posted October 26, 2014 at 05:52AM CDT
Comment by Marsha of Bangs, TX

Thank you, Lisa, for your wonderful message today. It gives me hope!

Posted October 26, 2014 at 06:59AM CDT
Comment by Mike of Jamestown, KY

A very thoughtful message Lisa... Have a blessed day!

Posted October 26, 2014 at 07:36AM CDT
Comment by Lee of Tucson, AZ

Why is it that I am so eager to set Barabbas free? Is it because I don't (won't) comprehend the compassionate forgiveness God offers through Jesus? Every life has meaning, yours, theirs, and even mine. "Amazing Grace." Lee's Nite Radio.

Posted October 26, 2014 at 08:25AM CDT
Comment by Georgia of Woodstock, GA

Thank you, Lisa, for your powerful message. What a comfort to know that no sin is too great to be beyond forgiveness.

Posted October 26, 2014 at 08:29AM CDT
Comment by Coylee

Lisa, your message was great. It's something we all need to remember. I'll never forget the Sunday our minister asked us to stay after church with some other members. It was to witness a baptism of a young man that was going to prison. He had found Christ as his Lord and Savior & wanted to be baptized. It's amazing what Christ can do and helped me realize that Christ loves everyone, good & bad alike.

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