Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions. (Airing daily on Hope 103.2 and Inspire Digital at 9am)
You may remember the 1985 movie The Color Purple starring a young Whoopi Goldberg. It was very popular and launched her movie career. It was based on the 1982 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.
Amazing story covering 40 years of Celie Johnson, an African-American woman living in the US Deep South, facing incredible abuse and bigotry. Directed by legend Steven Spielberg, it is an amazing movie. A blues singer named Shug Avery is featured—Shug’s father is a minister of religion who disowns her because of her lifestyle. She has brought shame and disgrace to the family. He hasn’t spoken to her for years.
But there is one scene where she is singing in the bar “I’ve got somethin’ to tell you” when she suddenly hears the church choir, just across the road, singing a hymn “God’s something to tell you”. She takes her band into the church and marches down the aisle. Shug’s father is about to preach on the parable of the prodigal son. She then says to him something profound, You see daddy—even us sinners have souls. Shug was trying hard to win her father’s approval for mistakes she had made.
Of course everyone makes mistakes—but I believe we all need a second chance in life. No-one’s perfect. I’ve messed up—and my guess is that you have too.
God Delights in Giving Second Chances
Do you realise that God delights in giving second chances? When Moses wanted to understand more about God so that he could speak with authority to the people of Israel, God passed by him and proclaimed he is, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6 – NIV).
God is patient in giving us second chances—and not just one, but continual second chances. Micah 7:18 (NIV) says,
Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
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God savours opportunities to offer second chances—God is the God of the second chance! The Bible says that God “is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13 – NIV).
We all make mistakes. But God isn’t like this. No matter how far we’ve wandered from him or how much we’ve messed up our lives, he still loves us and wants to help us get our feet on the right path. People need to know that God gives them second chances. They need to know that God does not give up on us because we mess up. And that God is willing to give us another opportunity to get it right even after we may completely fail in following him.
Second Chances in the Bible
The Bible has many examples of second chances. Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. When he returned to the camp and came upon a huge hedonistic party he was so angry he threw down the tablets and destroyed them. Fortunately God gave him another copy. This is the same Moses who in anger killed an Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew. God gave him a second chance and he ended up becoming one of the world’s all-time greatest leaders.
Peter was one of Jesus disciples and yet when Jesus was unjustly arrested he denied he ever knew him. He did not deny him once but three different times. Peter felt like such a failure he went back to his former profession as a fisherman. But Jesus came to him and gave him a second chance. He gave Peter the opportunity to serve him and help lead the early Church.
Mark was an early follower of Jesus and wrote the Gospel of Mark. He was on the ministry team of the Apostle Paul. The book of Acts tells us that he deserted Paul and the team, left Perga and went back to Jerusalem. Ten years later Paul was imprisoned in Rome and asked if Mark could be sent to him, “because he is helpful to me” (2 Timothy 4:11 – NIV). Even after deserting him, Paul gives Mark a second chance. He actually believed Mark could be a help to him.
God gave Moses a second chance, Jesus gave Peter a second chance and Paul gave Mark a second chance.
God is in the business of second chances to remind us that he is the same God yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Second chances are his megaphone of grace, screaming at us, Trust me, my child. You’ve been here before. See how I delivered you then? I won’t fail you now.
Offering forgiveness and giving second chances is what Jesus does—and so should we. Give others the benefit of the doubt—give them a second chance, just as God offers the same to you.