As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. . .But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember to do His commandments.
Psalm 103: 12, 17-18
I saw a meme recently which said “I’ve given God a million reasons not to love me. None of them have changed His mind.” If we really think about how many times we sin against God, we’d probably wonder why God would still love us. Because God is full of mercy and compassion, He still loves us, despite all of the sins we commit against Him and against one another.
The Bible is full of examples of God’s grace and mercy extended towards us. One example comes from Psalm 103. Psalm 103:12 reads “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” We’ve all had the experience of looking over the horizon, which stretches out farther than the eye can see. On top of a mountain on a clear day, we might be able to see a hundred miles in the distance. Looking around in a complete circle, we might see an area of 400 square miles in total. This view would be majestic and incredible by itself. And yet, even 400 square miles (which is a lot of land) is a fraction of the land on the earth. Imagine looking at 400 square miles of God’s mercy and grace and forgiveness. That would be amazing, and yet it is still a drop in the bucket of how much God has of these things for us.
Not only is God easy when it comes to forgiveness, He is easy when it comes to entreating Him, to speaking with Him. We don’t have to make an appointment to speak with Him. We can speak to Him at any time, anywhere. We don’t need to feel bad if we haven’t spoken to Him in a while. He isn’t going to chastise us and make us feel guilty. He isn’t going to demand “where have you been?” God is going to embrace us, in the same way the father embraced the Prodigal Son. Even though the son had wasted half of the father’s wealth and returned in shame, the father still received him with joy, grace and mercy.
As God is easy to entreat and easy to forgive, we should be the same. Many of us have people we know that if we see their name come up on the phone, our blood pressure goes up. In some relationships, the question “can we talk?” strikes a chord of fear, because “can we talk” means an argument is probably going to ensue. Perhaps there are people out there who don’t care if they strike fear in others. Most of us are not. We would be absolutely mortified if someone’s blood pressure went up because they saw our name some up on their phone.
“The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.” (Psalm 103: 17) That means that it has no beginning and no end, and thus it also has no conditions. If we are really to imitate the Lord, then we must learn to love without beginning or end, and without conditions. We must offer forgiveness in the same way. We must offer grace in the same way. This is a pretty tall order—to be limitless with love, forgiveness, and grace. Because oftentimes, when we are severely wounded, we feel entitled to withhold love, forgiveness and grace, until the person who has offended us has earned these back to our satisfaction.
We are reminded in Psalm 130:3-4, that “If Thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee.” In any relationship that lasts for a significant period of time, there are going to be bumps in the road, lots of them. Without forgiveness, no serious relationship would be possible. It would be impossible to love a spouse, a parent, a child, or a good friend if there is no forgiveness. Because in a close relationship, iniquities can pile up quickly. So we need to be easy to entreat and easy to forgive if we hope to have lasting and loving relationships.
In becoming better encouragers, we need to follow the example of the Lord—to be easy to entreat and easy to forgive. The grace we show towards others ideally is like the grace of God, “as far as the east is from the west.” If we are expecting the grace of Jesus Christ to be with us, as St. Paul wishes for it to be in I Thessalonians 5:28, then we need to gift that kind of grace amongst ourselves.
Lord thank You for the gift of forgiveness that You offer so easily and so freely to everyone. If You were to mark my sins, I would have no chance before You. Thank You for meeting my sin with Your mercy. Help me to do the same for others. As it is so easy to entreat You, may I also make it easy for others to entreat me. Thank You for the gift of Your grace and mercy, which I do not deserve. Help me to be generous with grace and mercy towards others, even those who have hurt me deeply. Amen.
The Lord is easy to entreat, and easy to forgive us. May we offer the same grace to each other.