The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
This is just a small piece of this majestic Psalm. I’m not sure there is much to add to this. My concern is, do we believe the wonder of these verses? Do I in my heart and soul believe that God is really like this? Roll the words around your tongue, the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
I wonder how many of us secretly live with the reverse of this God, a God who is uncaring, who is mean, who remembers all our wrong doing, who is quick to anger, quick to be disappointed in us, who treats us as we deserve, who holds onto our sin, who hates his children and expects the world from them. Sometimes I am ashamed to admit that is the mean nasty god I avoid worshipping. I have lost the wonder, the wow, the reality that God is really good.
God is kind, compassionate, he protects the weak, he doesn’t act towards us as we deserve. He really is. Mercy is in his nature, he loves us, he has taken away our sins, he keeps no record of wrong. Why? He knows what we are like, he knows we are dust, people who are creatures. Maybe that’s why we forget how loving our God is, because we’ve lost our identity as creatures, we think we made the world and we know what is best, we are too proud to hold out hands that need to be loved and too fearful that we’ll find in God a reflection of our unloving hearts. We are afraid that God is like us in holding onto sin, in withdrawing affection when hurt.
God is nothing like us. God is faithful in love, is stubborn in his compassion to us, is creative in how far he throws our sin away from us. He delights in declaring that our punishment has been paid, that we have no accuser and that his love has conquered. Stand on a hill, throw back your head and laugh that such a thing could be so delightfully true.
So, what steps do we need to take to throw away our nasty god we have created in our minds? Do we dare to believe that our real amazing God is one who drips with lavish love for us? How would our lives be different today if we really did believe it? I know that I would be confident, free to know I am loved, and therefore free to approach others without worrying about what they think of me, I would be free to worship and adore God without the secret fear that he was annoyed with me. I would smile, dance and know no shame because the one whose opinion really counts knows everything I’ve ever done, thought or said about people and has thrown it away. He hasn’t made a list, he’s chucked all of it into the far sea and he has open arms of mercy to wrap around me.
There is always hope, there is always hope, there is always hope. Even for that sin you are thinking of, even though you know you’ve blown it again. He will not let you walk away, he will not let you stay in the place of despair. There is always hope because our God is full of compassion, abounding in steadfast unfailing love and keeps on throwing our sins away again and again and again.