Remember when you were a little kid? Did you ever do something you knew you weren’t supposed to do? Like steal a cookie from the cookie jar just before dinner? Did you ever feel so guilty about it that you just sat in fear of getting caught?
I remember several times when I was so overcome with sorrow for my wrongful actions that I came clean, confessing my crime before there was even a chance to be caught. I did it the other way many times too, and it was amazing, the punishment was always far more severe if I was caught in my wrong doing than if I got out ahead of it and confessed.
I’m reminded of the wicked people in Ninevah. They kind of got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. That moment when they realized God had seen their wickedness and was intending severely punish them had to be a horrifying moment. That’s exactly why God sent Jonah into the city.
Jonah 3:4-10 (NLT) On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed!” 5 The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow.
6 When the king of Nineveh heard what Jonah was saying, he stepped down from his throne and took off his royal robes. He dressed himself in burlap and sat on a heap of ashes. 7 Then the king and his nobles sent this decree throughout the city:
“No one, not even the animals from your herds and flocks, may eat or drink anything at all. 8 People and animals alike must wear garments of mourning, and everyone must pray earnestly to God. They must turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. 9 Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us.”
10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.
How amazing! God declares, “You’re all gonna die!” These people suddenly have their eyes wide open and they begin to fast, pray, repent. From the highest authority in the land to lowest people they mourned and cried out the Lord and it worked! God looked down upon their repentance and showed mercy! He spared them. He didn’t carry out his threats.
God shows great mercy to those who repent and turn from their sins. I feel so grateful that this is who God is, because I’ve sinned and I’ve repented and I know that He has forgiven me! He has shown me mercy.
What if the people had not responded this way? What if they had laughed at Jonah like the people in the time of Noah laughed at him? God would have surely destroyed the city as surely as he sent the flood. As surely as God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.
God is ready to show mercy and forgiveness to all who come to Him, but what sorrow awaits the unrepentant! Friends, we must not become careless in our faith. We must not allow the glorious grace of God to become an excuse to continue living in sin.
Romans 6:1-2 (ESV) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
Romans 6:12, 14 (ESV) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions… For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
God’s grace does not give us a license to continue in our sin, but empowers us to overcome our sin! And when we fail and fall short? We have the ability to come before God and repent anew in submission and surrender to the greatness of God. His love is so amazing! As we grow in love for the Lord, our desire to abstain from sin grows as well.
John 15:2, 6 (ESV) Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit…If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
God’s mercy and grace should produce a harvest of righteousness in our lives! We should be bearing spiritual fruit in our lives. If aren’t producing that fruit we show we do not belong to Him and will be cut off and thrown into the fire.
I love the it also says every branch that does bear fruit will be pruned, there’s no way around it. We’re gonna be cut, but God is faithful to us. He will guide us and empower us to live lives that are pleasing to Him.
Let us continue to come before the Lord in humility and repentance. Let us never think so highly of ourselves that we stop surrendering every part of who we are to Jesus. Let be grateful for the mercy God bestows upon us and when a sinner comes to know Jesus and repents, turning from their sins, let us rejoice with Heaven!