Is there anybody in your life you’d be okay with God sort of “forgetting” to save?
It’s not like you intentionally wish ill-will on them (or maybe you do), it’s just that they have pulled one too many punches. They’ve hurt you or the one you love too many times to be forgiven.
Or maybe it’s a group of people. Child molesters. Rapists. Sadists.
Surely, they can never belong to God’s family, right?
And if they do make it through the Pearly Gates, God couldn’t possibly expect us to talk to them, hug them, welcome them in, right???
This week’s memory verse is the beginning of a paragraph that we’ll be memorizing over the next several weeks.
“See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15 (NLT)
Remember the story of Jonah? He got swallowed up into the belly of a whale because when God asked him to go talk to a specific group of people, he ran away instead.
As a child, I always thought that story was about getting swallowed by a whale. Kind of a “You can’t outrun God or His plan for your life” message.
I read it just the other day and I noticed something much different. I noticed why Jonah ran away.
God asked Jonah to go talk to a group of people that Jonah hated. In the book of Jonah, chapter 4, Jonah tells God that he didn’t go, because he knew that if he preached that message and the people repented, God would indeed forgive them.
Jonah didn’t want them to be forgiven.
Back to today’s memory verse: “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.”
That’s a tough order to keep, in the big ways, but in the little ways too.
When someone snaps on us, do we snap back?
When the person working behind the counter is short and rude with her words, are we short back?
Do we discount what someone is thinking or planning or even capable of based on how they look, the way they’re dressed, the words they use, or any other physical property?
Always try to do good… to all people.
How do we do that? Maybe it starts by taking an honest look at the ways we’re not so good.
Sometimes thoughts pop into my head that aren’t kind or productive. Acknowledging that I don’t have to think those thoughts helps me. So does replacing them with a more loving thought like, “God created each of us” or even “It seems like they’re having a bad day. God, please help them to see the beauty in this day.”
Jonah wasn’t expected to change anybody else’s behavior. He wasn’t expected to make the rules about who should and shouldn’t get into God’s Kingdom. He was simply called to do what God asked him to do.
I think that’s the same thing God asks of us today, to do what we feel like He is telling us to do.
But if we can be kind and forgiving and less-judgmental while we’re doing that, we can unleash a force for good in this world that, one drop at a time, could fill an ocean.