Psalm 103:8-11 - The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him.
"Pay back" is the way of the world. We see it all around us, in road-rage incidents, in family quarrels, in arguments that escalate into physical fights or gunfire. This is what our fallen human nature wants—revenge against others for real or perceived wrongs. Often enough we participate in such behavior ourselves, but our merciful and gracious God does not deal with us in the way that we deal with one another.
God would certainly have good reason to pay us back as we deserve. We continually sin against Him, repenting as we should, but then doing the same things again. We follow our own selfish desires instead of following His commands. Yet God does not seek revenge. He does not deal with us according to our sins, but according to His ways: "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." Because of that steadfast love, God does not pay us back with the condemnation that we deserve. He does not act in vengeance against us. Acting in mercy and grace, God sent His Son to be our Savior. Bearing our sins in His own body, Jesus was judged and condemned in our place. He suffered the penalty of death that we deserved for our sins. The steadfast love of God for those who fear Him, those who trust in Him, is "as high as the heavens are above the earth." It is a love revealed at the cross on which Jesus hung suspended between heaven and earth. There, at that cross, God did "not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities." He dealt with us in love.
Now through faith in Christ, we know the steadfast love of God every day of our lives, a love that will last through eternity. The apostle Paul prays that we, "being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge" (Ephesians 3:17b-19a). Rooted and growing in that love, we pray that through our works of service and words of witness, the Holy Spirit will lead others to believe that God does not deal with them according to their sins. They too will come to know the steadfast love of God.
WE PRAY: Lord God, keep me from seeking revenge. Teach me to deal with others in love and forgiveness, as You have dealt with me. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler.
1. Why is it so hard to resist the knee-jerk response of paying someone back for what they've done to us?
2. Why is it a good thing that God does not deal with us "according to our sins"?
3. How does Jesus' love toward the world give us an example of how we should respond to others?
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