by Christy Hoagland

Some of the most godly people I know are incarcerated. That may seem like an odd statement but God’s Word confirms its truth. “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Luke 7:47 ESV

Johnny says that Jesus made him a wimp but I believe that Jesus forgave Johnny’s sin and overwhelmed him so much with His grace and mercy over that forgiveness that Johnny just cannot help but weep for those who weep and love others much. Look at King David, he was in fact a murderer and at the same time a man after God’s own heart. I met a man awhile back who became a regular at one of the institutions we visit and he amazed me with his knowledge of scripture, his gratefulness to God for saving his soul, his love for others and his boldness in sharing the Gospel of Jesus. He was forgiven much and loves much.

So what does this say of those of us who have not been to prison, not been identified with societies “BIG SINS”? Do we have the ability to love others much?

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 ESV

You’ll have to answer that question in your own heart. Ask yourself, do you love societies most hated? The incarcerated, drug dealers, homosexuals, rapists, Muslims, abortionists…? We forget that we can love people without condoning sin or we at least act like we can’t love them. We can stand up for God’s truth and Christian values and still love much.

Let’s dig a little deeper, if we believe God’s Word, we are all murderers.

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer…” 1 John 3:15 ESV

If we are honest with ourselves then we know that our minds have thought the worst of others at times. We are all guilty. We are all sinners!

Maybe you agree with all of this but you are still having trouble with the first sentence of this post. It seems that a lot of people don’t really believe that God can change the heart of a man, at least a man in prison or who has done some heinous crime. Do we believe God has the power and the ability to change the sinner? Even the most guilty of sinners? We say yes with our mouths but in our hearts we doubt, our actions betray our yes when we look at others who we think are the worst of the worst. I think what our real struggle is we don’t believe God and His Word. He shows us how He changes people again and again. Take a look at Mark 5 and the demon-possessed man, he was so miraculously changed that people marveled at what Jesus had done for the man.

“And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.” Mark 5:15

“And they were afraid”…we are afraid of what we do not understand, of what we do not have control of or can make sense of but this is the kind of God we serve! His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts. Jesus says in this same chapter later on “Do not fear, only believe”! Believe that God has the power and want to to change lives, every life that will call on Him. Let us examine our hearts, believe God and love much.

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