His “Universal Prayer” is a very popular poem because it calls to mind the magnificence of God and the importance of forgiveness. Since God is described as “the Father of mercies” at 2 Corinthians 1:3, I wondered if I was even close to understanding His elevated view of love and compassion. My research showed I was not.
I learned that God in His mercy searches through us, looking for the good. We see this when He sentenced the entire evil dynasty of King Jeroboam to be executed. God ordered that one of the King’s sons, Abijah, be given a decent burial. Why?
1Kings 14:13 says, “Out of the whole line of Jeroboam, he alone will have a tomb, because only in him did Israel’s God, the LORD, find something good.” — Common English Bible.
However small that “something good” was, God found it worth mentioning in His Word. He even rewarded it, showing a degree of mercy to a member of a corrupt household.
If God, in effect, sifted through the heart of that man and found “something good” in there, isn’t He just as willing to do the same for those who are trying to serve Him? 1Chronicles 28:9 tells us, “the LORD searcheth all hearts.”
As God searches through billions of human hearts in this violent world, how do you think it makes Him feel when He comes across a heart that loves peace, truth and righteousness?
Even though we are far from perfect and succumb to sin, isn’t it refreshing to know that God knows our heart? As Psalm 103:13-14 says, “As a father hath mercy on sons, Jehovah hath mercy on those fearing Him ... Remembering that we are dust.” — Young’s Literal Translation.
Consider the case of King Johoshaphat. When he committed a foolish act, 2 Chronicles 19:2-3 says, “A prophet, Jehu son of Hanani, went to meet the king and said to him, Do you think it is right to help those who are wicked and to take the side of those who hate the Lord? What you have done has brought the Lord’s anger on you. But even so, there is some good in you. You have removed all the symbols of the goddess Asherah which people worshiped, and you have tried to follow God’s will.” — Good News Translation.
I appreciate knowing that God found “some good” in Jehoshaphat. This means His righteous anger does not blind Him to the good in us. He looks beyond our sinful mishaps and sees our value and even our potential. Is this true even when people make serious mistakes and seek forgiveness?
God’s mercy was highlighted in the Bible account of King David, who committed adultery with Bath-sheba and tried to cover it up by having her husband killed.
When David fully realized the error of his ways, he composed Psalm 51:1-3, praying, “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.” — New Living Translation.
David was truly repentant and God showed him mercy. Still, David was an upright man. What about how God sees the wicked? Isn’t He pleased at their destruction?
Two Scriptures opened my eyes about the compassion of God. At Ezekiel 33:11 God says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.”
One might think He would. But the Most High God says He finds “no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” Millions rejoice at the death of evil men, especially those without remorse. Child molesters and serial killers find few people who are not pleased at their demise.
But the Almighty seems focused on repentance rather than rejoicing in revenge — even when He has to act against the wicked. 2 Peter 3:9 says: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” — New Living Translation.
When we meditate on that phrase, “He does not want anyone to be destroyed,” we get a deeper understanding of “the Father of mercies” who looks for any evidence of our repentance, even at a moment’s notice.
Think about the evildoer who sincerely repented and put his faith in Christ as they were both being executed. In one second he was forgiven. Mercy was shown. Why? God does not hold grudges. He freely forgives. He does not enjoy the death of wicked people and neither should we. God does not want anyone to be destroyed and neither should we.
James 2:3 says, “Judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” — New King James Version.
Jesus said at Matthew 5:7: “Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.” — New World Translation.
If you want forgiveness — forgive. Look for the good in others. Show mercy whenever and wherever you can in imitation of our glorious God of mercy.