“‘Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord God. ‘Therefore, repent and live.’” – Ezekiel 18:31-32
God truly is love. Yes, he is a God of justice and will mete out punishment to those who refuse to repent and turn to him. But that isn’t what he wants. It gives him no pleasure. You can hear the yearning in his voice as he pleads, “For why will you die, O house of Israel?” His heart breaks as he calls out, “Why die, why be punished, why suffer, when all you need to do is turn to me, repent, and live?”
I think that far too often, we are not like God in this respect. We want the bad guys to get what’s coming to them. We may say that we hope they’ll repent, but we really want to see them feel God’s wrath and judgment.
Think about it – how does it really make you feel to realize that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and Saddam Hussein could all have been completely forgiven by God and had their sins wiped away if only they had turned to him? That they would have entered all the blessings of heaven without a lick of the fire of hell?
Or bring it closer to home. Most likely, you or someone you love has been traumatically hurt by another person. Maybe it was rape. Maybe murder. Maybe assault and battery.
Not a simple “Ouch” that you can forgive and forget, but unbelievable pain that carries its effects throughout a lifetime.
Do you really want to see the person who hurt you or your loved one repent and be saved? Or, in the secret or not-so-secret places of your heart, would you rather that they burned in hell for eternity?
God is love. He takes no pleasure in anyone’s death or judgment. If we are to become like him, then we need to do the same.
* Are you struggling to forgive someone who has hurt you or a loved one? If so, what makes it hard to forgive?
* What is your real, honest attitude about that person? Do you desire their repentance and salvation, or would you take pleasure if they were punished – perhaps eternally?
* Spend time in prayer asking God to help you through the process of forgiving that person, and to give you a heart of love that will truly desire their good, their welfare, their repentance, and their salvation.