REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional was first posted on July 10, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“If God Can Pardon David Berkowitz . . .”
Jonah 3:10, 4:1-2
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. 4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
God’s grace is amazingly frustrating because it sometimes seems like God makes mistakes. We look at someone like David Berkowitz (a.k.a., Son of Sam) who killed 6 women and shot 7 others and ask, “God, this person deserves judgment. How can you show him grace?”
This is the same situation Jonah found himself in. Despite the great atrocities the people of Nineveh committed, and despite the fact that they didn’t deserve it, Jonah knew God was gracious, and if Nineveh repented they would be spared. This is why he ran away.
There is an inherent danger in this pattern of thought. The moment we feel like some people merit grace and others don’t, it stops becoming grace altogether. When this happens, we take the place of God the Creator in judgment of man whom He created.
Rather, we are told to cultivate faith like a child when it comes to the matters of grace; that is, receive grace like a child. We need to have faith that God knows what He’s doing when He pours out grace. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
When we do this, we may get a glimpse of how powerful God’s grace truly is. Nineveh repented top down. Likewise, David Berkowitz repented, converted to Christianity, and said this: “I have no interest in parole and no plans to seek release. If you could understand this, I am already a ‘free man.’ I am not saying this jokingly. I really am. Jesus Christ has already pardoned me, and I believe this.”
There’s a word of warning as well as a word of encouragement for us today.We cannot assume that certain people merit grace and others do not. To do so would be to take the place of God. Our encouragement is that God’s grace is wonderfully powerful and He extends it to us.
Prayer: God, I thank You for your grace over my life. I ask that You reveal Your heart of grace for those around me. Use me to reveal Your grace to those who desperately need it. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 32
Lunch Break Study
Re-read the passage for this morning’s devotion.
Read Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Questions to Consider
- What does today’s text reveal about God’s desire for people?
- Why was Jonah upset at God’s grace?
- When we look at today’s text in light of what Jesus says in Matthew, what are we warned of?
- God desires mercy and grace instead of destruction (Joel 2:12-14).
- It can be inferred that Jonah believed that Nineveh should be destroyed for its great sins, especially to the people of Israel.
- If we do not show grace in forgiving others, then we cannot expect God to show grace in forgiving us.
In tonight’s reflection, take a moment to honestly examine if there is anyone you have not shown grace to. Press into the heart of God that shows grace when it feels like grace is undeserved. Ask the Lord to strengthen you to go and show grace in a practical, tangible way.