Again and again, he rescued them, but they chose to rebel against him, and they were finally destroyed by their sin. (Psalm 106:43)
Relate: Nebuchadnezzar was a lucky man. Over and over again, he was given an opportunity to recognize the greatness of the God of Israel. He saw the four in the fire. He was given a dream straight from God and then its interpretation through Daniel. Even later, when his pride got the best of him, he went through a long seven-year journey of humiliation and repentance. He demonstrated that he had learned his lesson but then recording the truth about his own fall for all posterity.
Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson, Belshazzar was not so lucky. At the first recorded demonstration of his own sin and pride, he is judged and sentenced by God and then the Persians executed that very day. Some people are given opportunity after opportunity to repent and turn from their sin and wickedness. Other people don’t seem so lucky. Growing up, I felt like one of those unlucky ones. Friends could do something wrong over and over again without ever getting caught. I, on the other hand, seemed to get busted every single time for even the most minor of infractions. I remember one time buying a pack of baseball cards. The guy made a mistake in giving the change and I ended up with eleven cents instead of one. When my dad found out, he said I was stealing because I knew the truth but hadn’t said anything. So I had to run over a mile to that baseball card shop to return a dime and then run back home. If I wasn’t back in thirty minutes I would also get spanked. Where’s the grace?
React: God’s mercy and His grace are infinite. It covers even the greatest and most heinous of our sins. However, He is also holy. When scripture repeats a word, it does so for emphasis. For example, when Jesus wanted His disciples to pay attention, He would say, “Truly, truly I say to you…” The only thing repeated three times in all of scripture is God’s holiness. In Isaiah 6:3 and again in Revelation 4:8 we hear, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.”
God will forgive us when we repent. He will forgive us again if we repent again. As often as we repent, He will forgive. But there might come a time when we do not have the opportunity. We sin… and then the judgment. That might be a long time down the road, but it also might be the very next time we fall. To abuse, the limitless grace of God as an excuse for our unrepentant heart and actions is perhaps the greatest of all sins. How many times must we fall before we learn to walk straight?
God, I come to You again seeking forgiveness. I am sorry for the ways I have failed You over and over again. Even more, I am sorry for having to come to You again and again for the same things. Help me to step off the roller coaster of repeated sin. How many times must I fall into the same traps? Give me the humility to do whatever must be done to move beyond my repeated sin. Give me the strength and the faithfulness to follow through with accountability. Help me to recognize that although Your grace is infinite, so is Your justice.