I was listening to Carlos Whittaker’s song “God of Second Chances” the other day. I tried to think of the people in the Bible who had been given second chances. David came to mind first. He had served God as king of Israel, wrote praise songs, brought the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem and then had an affair with a woman. He then had her husband murdered to cover it up. He asked God to forgive him and was given a second chance to continue serving as the king and spiritual leader of Israel.
Jonah was another person who was given a second chance. He had been called to be a preacher, but ran from that calling. After heading in the opposite direction of where God called him to, the Lord sent a violent storm to stop him. He decided he would rather die than to be a preacher, so he had others throw him into the sea. As he was drowning, a giant fish swallowed him whole. He had a change of heart while inside the fish, and God agreed to give him a second chance. He spared his life and with his second chance, an entire city was saved.
Peter was a person who also needed a second chance. After following Jesus for three years, he denied he even knew Jesus to save his own skin. Peter was distraught at what he had done. He didn’t get to ask Jesus for forgiveness at that point, but we know he was forgiven. Jesus found him after the resurrection and asked him to feed His sheep. Because of Peter’s second chance, the early Church was born.
In Matthew 18:21, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” (NLT) He was asking Jesus, “How many chances should I give someone?” Jesus replied, “No, not seven times, but seventy times seven!” (NLT) Jesus then told a story of someone who had been forgiven much, but wasn’t willing to forgive someone who wronged him a little. The person who wouldn’t give a second chance to someone else was given the initial penalty he deserved.
If God is the God of second chances, you and I are to be people of second chances. To be like Christ is to forgive even those who continually wrong us when they ask for mercy. In Matthew 6:15, Jesus bluntly said, “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NLT). Just like God will forgive you for as many sins as you commit, we are to forgive others for their many sins. God has a history of giving people second chances. You and I can start today and write our own history of being people who give second chances.