“God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out. All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God! Thank him to His face!” (Psalm 30:2-4; The Message)
Both the Old and New Testaments are dedicated to second, third, and even fourth chances. The Bible is essentially a compilation of smaller stories about human beings falling into sin and then being redeemed—culminating in the personal sacrifice of God’s own son in order to give the entire human race another chance for eternal life. By accepting God’s grace in one’s life and walking with God, a person becomes more able to put off their old self “…which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of [their] minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24; NIV) Part of that journey might involve granting others a second chance as well.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23; NIV)
“Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20; NIV)
Regardless of how harshly we may judge ourselves in the context of our own sins, God is always waiting for us to repent and accept His gift of forgiveness. Just like the father in the story of the prodigal son, He watches for us and rejoices when we finally come home.
“…So he returned home to the father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him…” (Luke 15:11-32; NLT)
“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.” (Psalms 103:13; NLT)
Despite our tendency to wander from the straight and narrow path, the God who loves and sustains us sent His only son to grant us righteousness through faith—something we could never achieve on our own.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16; NIV)
“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8; NLT)
It is pretty amazing that our salvation is not contingent upon our goodness but rather Christ’s loving sacrifice, especially since “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6; NIV) Christ essentially died for the unrighteous, He died for all of us—making us stand as equals before His throne of grace.
That same God who redeems us from the bondage of sin, asks us to love others as He has loved us. He asks us not to forgive a brother once or twice but “up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22; NLT) Seven is the perfect or divine number, therefore seventy times seven implies as many times as it takes and extending as much grace as necessary in order to win the sinner back into a loving relationship with God and His church.
Our God, is a God of redemption “who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4; NIV)
Christians are to reflect the character of God, and one of the defining aspects of His character is forgiveness. Forgiveness may be very difficult when the person has directly caused us pain. This doesn’t mean their actions no longer have consequences. But those of us who profess to be children of God may be the only opportunity for a searching person to experience God’s true character—magnifying our duty to love our neighbors as God has loved us. Our forgiveness may help a fellow sinner to continue the journey towards a loving relationship with God and a healing relationship with those who they have sinned against. Our God, the living God, is not vengeful, and distant. Rather He is a God of personal sacrifice, who desires that none should be lost and all should be filled with the loving presence of the Holy Spirit.
“Long ago the Lord said to Israel: ‘I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”’ (Jeremiah 31:3; NLT)
“God gives each of us chance after chance to be saved from death and brought into the light that gives life.” (Job 33:29-30; CEV)
No matter how far a person has strayed, He is waiting for them to return, and willing to forgive. He has also asked us to help Him shepherd His wayward flock home in honor of the fact that we have been given a second chance—therefore enabling us to not only embrace our own second chance story, but to fulfill our function in the body of Christ.
“If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped.” (Psalm 130:3; The Message)