Turn on the TV on any day and you will be horrified by the news and who did what to whom. Crime is astounding. The criminal mind beyond understanding. So much of what is done appalls all of us. Often rendering our opinions to "lock 'em up and throw away the key."
Goodness, and seeing some of these stories, I have to agree.
I find myself inside the fences. Not because of something I've done, but to visit with those that did.
It's there that I find myself torn between the great divide of justice.... and mercy. Grace for the guilty. Forgiveness for those at fault. My heart cries for both the victims and the offenders. So many are hurt. And no one's the winner.
All I do know is that God forgives the repentant. He saves the sinful. He seeks to! He gives mercy to those who do not deserve it. He graces the guilty. He delivers / frees the imprisoned. No matter what one was done Jesus died to redeem them. He hung on a cross to ransom each wrong.
Crazily, as much as I have a heart for those imprisoned, I often watch shows like 48 Hours on ID, Forensic Files, Snapped, and shows of the like. I see glimpses of the horror of things that people have done to others. Some premediated. Others not. And I know offenders need to be caught, a price needs to be paid, people need to suffer the consequences from the things that they've done, they don't need to get away with the horror of the crime they committed. And too, once locked up.... my heart cries for those bound inside.... my heart seeks a release of the prisoners.
Perhaps some need to get out... but others who will never be able to control themselves never do. The question is (because we know that "everyone in prison finds Jesus"), who does?... and who doesn't?
Regardless, because of Jesus, they all need to be forgiven. For as Jesus put it, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
And hurting for both!
Isaiah 61:1-3 describes a picture of Jesus and why He came, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and to provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor."
""God is mighty, but does not despise men; He is mighty, and firm in His purpose.... if men are bound in chains, held fast by cords of affliction, He tells them what they have done— that they have sinned arrogantly. He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil. If they obey and serve Him, they will spend the rest of their day in prosperity and their years in contentment. But if they do not listen, they will perish by the sword and die without knowledge. The godless in heart harbor resentment; even when He fetters them, they do not cry for help. They die in their youth, among male prostitutes of the shrines. But those who suffer He delivers in their suffering; He speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction..."" - Job 36
May sin and what it does never harden my heart to hate those who have done it. May my heart always be tendered toward the hurting no matter which side of hurt it is on. ("Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ......." - Eph 6:10-13). May I never get so pious than to remember, all have sinned, all have fallen short, I need ransoming and redemption too! "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." I never have right to point a finger! If not but for the grace of God, who knows to the extent of all I could and would do?! Forgive me, Father, and help me to forgive!