While the Bible is clear that God hates sin, God is not the hard-nosed disciplinarian many make Him out to be.
Let’s take, for example, Esther.
Esther is a good girl, who is picked, without her consent to be part of the king’s harem. She does not fight, or protest or try to escape. Instead she goes along with a system where she is to be one of many women whose sole purpose is to pleasure the king. (Many women in abusive relationships are told that they should have… (fill in the blank).) Esther is in a ungodly situation and yet she does nothing to effect a change. In fact she complies with her captures so well she is chosen to be queen. (God redeems her role in a way- though she will see her husband rarely and it is not exactly a love match.) And even though she is in an ungodly situation, she is still to be used mightily by God.
Rahab is a prostitute. When she performs her heroism and saves the Hebrew spies she is still a prostitute. The red sheet she hangs from the window is not the bed covering of a virtuous woman, nor has it seen only virtue in use. Yet god uses her, a sinner, and a sheet, a sign of her sin, as a sign and method of salvation. She, as a former prostitute, becomes the bride of a virtuous man (Salmon, one of the spies she saved) and is a mother in the line of Christ. How often do we shame women who were not pure in their youth as if it is a lifelong condition they can never overcome? This is not how God deals with a woman who has likely lost count of the number of men she has had…
David is a man after God’s own heart… Yet his list of sins is so long it bears numbering…
- He is an adulterer.
- He is a murderer.
- He ignored the fact that his daughter was raped and did nothing about it.
- He did not forgive his son who was obviously repentant and grieving for his father’s love. (Absalom)
- He did not come back for, or send for, his first wife, who risked her life to save his while he was on the run, even though he had acquired other wives whom he felt able to protect.
- He did not do justice in the case of Joab, Shimi and others, but left them for Solomon to deal with.
- He called for a census against God’s will, which resulted in a plague.
- He did not follow God’s instructions (or even know what they were) in carrying the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem the first time.
And I am sure there are more if we start to really pick through all that is written about him…
The point is that God still used David, and loved him, despite his mistakes. His mistakes in life did not disqualify him from God’s love, and did not take him out of the plans God had for him. Sure, he was punished, and if there was anything David did well, it was repenting (practice makes perfect?). But the point is that our past, even our recent past, does not change God’s love for us. It does not distance us from Him in a manner that is irrecoverable. God looks at our heart, not the tally sheet of nasty things we have done. It is our sorrow over our situation, not the situation itself, that is judged. It is what we are going to do next that is important, not what we have done. God wants us to love Him and to love others- not that we will be perfect, but that we will try to do better.
So we are to forget the past, in that it is not there to hinder us in doing what is right, and great in the future. And draw closer to God, realizing that He is there for us regardless of the condition we come to Him.