“Go to Hell!” is an oath hurled in anger. I don’t recall ever hearing those words come from my mouth, but have my actions said as much? Has a judgmental spirit, a harsh unforgiving heart, or a refusal to extend the offer of God’s grace to someone I determine to be unworthy as much as said, “Go to Hell!”?
Jonah, the runaway prophet, finally obeyed God’s call to preach to the Assyrian city of Nineveh. “Forty days until calamity befalls this city,” he cried in the streets. From the slave to the king, an amazing thing happened. They repented! “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.” (Jonah 3:10, NIV) Did Jonah rejoice that 120,000 people were spared? Not at all. He sat at the edge of the city and sulked, furious at God for giving these unworthy people grace. “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.” (Jonah 4:2-3, NLT) He wanted justice, not mercy, even though he knew the heart of the LORD God was one of compassion.
Disciple, are you like Jonah in relation to your world? Are you furious with the godless culture, angry at the greed and sensuality, distressed by the selfishness? It is right to be angered by sin! It offends our Lord and should offend us, whether it is our own or that of people around us. However, it is not for us to say, “Go to Hell!” While we are courageous to speak the truth, we do so ‘in love.’ We must love His mercy and not just for ourselves.
Grace is scandalous. If it were deserved, it would not be grace! The Cross is an offense to those who are religious, who think they can please God with their own righteousness, who mock those whose hope is fixed in Christ alone. But those who know grace, who are among the pardoned and restored, think differently. They extend forgiveness, live in love, experience joy, and are filled with peace. Yes, that is the fruit of the grace that allows us to live in the Spirit.
Here’s a word from the Word. I pray it will fill your heart with gratitude for His grace and cause you to be a gracious Christian who says, “Come with me to Heaven!”
“God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins.” (Psalm 103:8-12, The Message)
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt,
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt!
Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
Threaten the soul with infinite loss.
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
Points to the refuge, the mighty Cross.
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within!
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Grace Greater Than Our Sin
Johnston, Julia H. / Towner, Daniel Brink