Recently, I was at the theater watching Jurassic World with my family. Beside me, there was a four-year old boy sitting with his father and throughout the movie I passed judgement on the father for bringing this young boy to that sort of movie.
Later, I made a comment and my own son said, “maybe the man didn’t want to pay for a babysitter and decided to take him to a movie instead.”
I was convicted afterwards by my judgemental perception of the situation I knew nothing about. Good on my son for choosing a positive perception of the situation. But, how I grieved afterwards about my opinion.
And, even though I have worked hard to change my perceptions of people and circumstances, my original state creeps through and I judge again.
I am reminded of the story of the man who was forgiven a large debt by his lord and then went out and demanded payment from someone who owed him money. He did not show this man the same mercy he had just been shown and threatened to have this fellow slave thrown in jail.
When the lord who had forgiven much heard about what happened, he called for the “unforgiving” servant:
“‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'” (Matthew 18:32-33 NIV)
This verse perfectly describes how I felt that night. My inability to change my own heart grieved me. I was reminded of King David who cried out to God in remorse for the lack of restraint in his own life:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 KJ)
Elliot’s commentary states, “David recognized that he could not make his heart clean himself. He was asking God to do more than purify him. He was asking God to cleanse him by an act of creative power that would make a new clean heart. He was asking for a renovation of his mental and moral nature which he recognized as corrupt and depraved.”
We need to acknowledge our sin for it brings us to a place of repentance and prepares our hearts for a cleansing that only God can give.
“Renewing a right spirit within me” speaks of an increase of grace in our hearts. It refers to a mindset that is prepared to exercise mercy and show compassion to the undeserving, just like God did for us.
How does God’s grace remain with us, stay in us? How do we live it out?
Repentance is a seed we plant in the grit and dirt of our day when our hearts are luke-warm. We do our part and God does His. There comes a time when we need the supernatural power of God to flood in and purify and cleanse our hearts.
We need to be humble ourselves and it’s healthy to fall on our knees when we come to the end of our rope. And as I fell to my knees and as I bowed down a picture came to my mind. I saw the cross and looked up at Jesus hanging there. I saw his suffering and I felt the drops of blood that splattered onto my face and my body. I have been forgiven much.
While I was praying, other scenarios came to my mind that I needed to forgive and release.
I am grateful for the grace of God that expands my heart enabling me to show compassion and mercy to those I touch shoulders with every day. I am certainly not perfect, but Peter reminds us that grace is a journey and that we need to keep growing in grace despite our failure to be merciful all the time.
“But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 2:18 NAS)