Those moments when the Holy Spirit speaks to your soul are beautiful. He may be encouraging you, comforting you, giving you guidance, or simply reminding you of God’s love for you. Sometimes, He will also convict you of your wrong doing. We can’t work toward fixing a problem we don’t know exists. Truth be told, there is only so much we can do to fix the issues inside of us and change our heart. Ultimately God has to do a work in us. But we won’t allow Him to do it if we don’t know there’s work to be done.
I had one of those hard moments of conviction last night. I was settling in for bed, thinking about something I had read earlier in the day. A post on Facebook was talking about abortion and the doctors who do them. I am avidly pro-life and the topic hurt my heart, as it always does. In the comments there were a couple of ladies who said things like “may God have mercy on them” and “I hope they come to repentance before it’s too late.”
I am not proud to admit that as I was thinking about it I found myself angry, thinking those doctors don’t deserve mercy! They have more than earned eternal punishment! There needs to be justice for all the little ones who never saw life outside the womb! Then there in the quiet and the dark, the Holy Spirit whispered into my soul something that stopped my mind mid-rant. He simply said to me, “Jonah.”
If you haven’t read my study of Jonah, please take a few minutes to do so now. At least the last 1/3 of it, as that is what I will be referring to. Then come back for the rest of this story. I’ll wait…
Ok. So God simply dropping that name blew my mind, but not in a “wow that’s neat!” way. God was convicting me of having a heart like Jonah. I’ve been full of bitterness and unforgiveness for another’s sin, even after he’s forgiven me of so much. I would have preferred to see their destruction than see them find mercy through Christ. I remember when I was writing about Jonah, thinking, “How can he be so blind, and so hardened in his heart?” The Lord showed me how. I am the same way. We are humans. In our flesh we cannot forgive, we have a strong desire for vengeance, and are typically unmerciful. Like Jonah, we find a kind of satisfaction in seeing someone punished for what we know is wrong. Even after we have been shown mercy for doing things we know is wrong!
I prayed, asking for God’s forgiveness and for Him to change my heart. As I prayed the Holy Spirit brought more passages from the Bible to my mind. (This is why we need to be learning and reading! God can use things we’ve tucked away long ago to teach us something now!)
The first was in Micah 6:8 where it says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” This verse is so deep and filling when we really study it out. I will do a deeper study of it another day, but right now I want to concentrate on the love mercy part. He doesn’t say, “love when God shows you mercy.” He says to love mercy. As it is, for what it is, in all circumstances. Love mercy when someone else wrongs us. Love mercy when we are given mercy for our wrong doings. When we see someone sinning, love mercy and pray for them to repent and receive it. We have all sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23).
Another point He made to me was that I have committed the same sin. I have murdered. In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” It starts in the heart. I know there have been times I have been angry with someone, sometimes without a good reason, and “killed them in my mind” so to speak. Again, not proud of it. I’m just being honest here in my confession, and hoping it can be a learning experience for others too.
The Holy Spirit also gave me Matthew 7:1-2 which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
The kind of mindset I had is exactly what I believe this passage is teaching about. It’s not saying we should not judge right from wrong. In fact we should, using God’s word as our guide. How else would we be able to “abhor what is wrong and cling to what is right” (Romans 12:9)? It’s not saying we cannot point out to others that what they are doing is wrong in God’s eyes. The Bible explicitly tells us that there are times we should, like it says in 1 Timothy 5:20, Galatians 6:1 and Matthew 18:15-17.
Think of a court room scenario. The judge, and in many cases the jury acting as a judging body, is the one who decides a case. They decide the punishment for the crime. I believe we are told in Matthew 7:1-2 that it’s not our place to decide someone else’s punishment. It’s not up to us whether they will receive mercy or not. And if we think we can decide what their fate should be, we will receive the same fate because we have committed the same crimes!
It takes a heart change to see things the way God does. I pray the Holy Spirit keeps showing me where I am wrong, and that God keeps changing me and giving me mercy. I want to love mercy for others just as much as I love it for myself. God knows, I don’t want a heart like Jonah’s. I want a heart like Jesus.