You are a forgiving God . . . abounding in love. Nehemiah 9:17
“If I touched a Bible, it would catch fire in my hands,” said my community college English professor. My heart sank. The novel we’d been reading that morning referenced a Bible verse, and when I pulled out my Bible to look it up, she noticed and commented. My professor seemed to think she was too sinful to be forgiven. Yet I wasn’t bold enough to tell her about God’s love—and that the Bible tells us we can always seek God’s forgiveness.
There’s an example of repentance and forgiveness in Nehemiah. The Israelites had been exiled because of their sin, but now they were allowed to return to Jerusalem. When they’d “settled in,” Ezra the scribe read the law to them (Nehemiah 7:73–8:3). They confessed their sins, remembering that despite their sin God “did not desert” or “abandon them” (9:17, 19). He “heard them” when they cried out; and in compassion and mercy, He was patient with them (vv. 27–31).
In a similar way, God is patient with us. He won’t abandon us if we choose to confess our sin and turn to Him. I wish I could go back and tell my professor that, no matter her past, Jesus loves her and wants her to be part of His family. He feels the same way about you and me. We can approach Him seeking forgiveness—and He will give it!
Do you know someone who feels they’re too sinful for Jesus to forgive them? How does the truth that Jesus has come not for “the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17) speak to this way of thinking?
Dear Father, thank You for forgiving my sins and for Your assurance that no one is too sinful to be forgiven.
To learn more about forgiveness in the Christian life, visit ChristianUniversity.org/SF107.
The book of Nehemiah tells the story of the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. The Israelites had just returned to Judah after being held captive in Babylon to find that the city wall was destroyed, and they were defenseless against their enemies (1:1–4). In chapter 9, the wall had been rebuilt and the Israelites gathered and listened while their history was read. They admitted to God: “You have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly (v. 33). Despite their disobedience, God forgave them and established a new covenant with them (9:38–10:39).