Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
If somebody had taken advantage of you in a business deal, how would you react to the news that he had gone into bankruptcy? Or what is your reaction when you hear that a fellow Christian who has been living disobediently to God has finally fallen under God’s judgment? Let’s be honest: we find some delight in that. We get righteous and say, “Oh, they got what they deserve.”
That is the reaction you might expect to see from Abraham in Genesis 14. In the previous chapter, Abraham told his nephew, “Lot, you choose whatever land you want, and I will take what is left over.” The Bible says Lot took the best, most fertile land and left the rest for his uncle. And his choice led to disastrous consequences.
Here is the “Reader’s Digest” version of what happened in Genesis 14: A coalition of eastern kings led by a guy named Chedorlaomer marched on the Jordan Valley, where Lot had settled. Most of the kings of the Jordan Valley ran for their lives, leaving behind their possessions and their residents. And because Lot was in the wrong place at the wrong time, he was taken hostage by Chedorlaomer.
Verse 13 says, “A fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew.” How did Abraham respond to the news of what happened to his nephew Lot? He would have been justified in saying, “Well, Lot got exactly what he deserved.” But Abraham did not do that; instead, he extended mercy to him. When Abraham heard the news, he organized a team of 318 men and went in to rescue Lot. Abraham chose to give Lot not what he deserved but what he needed.
That is a picture of what God has done for us. Titus 3:4-5 says, “When the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.” That word “kindness” comes from a Greek word that means “to do something useful.” To be kind to somebody is to do something useful for that person, to give them not what they deserve but what they need. When God looked down and saw that we were being held hostage by Satan, that we were headed for eternal separation from Him, He would have been justified in saying, “Well, that is what happens to people who rebel against God.” But God showed kindness to us. He instigated a rescue plan to deliver us from Satan’s bondage and into the presence of His Son. God gave us not what we deserved but what we needed, and we are commanded to show that same kindness to others.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Battling Believer’s Remorse” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org