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God doesn’t define us by our mistakes

I have had the blessing of being part of a virtual Bible Study called the Bible Study Hub for the past couple of years. This year I’m leading the Christmas study on “The Characters of Christmas”. As I studied, God showed me something in the story that I hadn’t noticed before (I love how He always does that!). My heart was drawn to the character Zechariah. In Luke’s Gospel we read of Zechariah being described as righteous before God (Lk 1:6). We go on to read in Luke 1:8-80 that, in an extraordinary moment when he is faced with a choice to put his faith in God’s outrageous plan for him, or choose to listen to the world’s logic and commonsense, he chose the latter. The result -- God still was true to HIS plan, but Zechariah was silenced and unable to talk to others about it.

I have always looked at this passage and seen Zechariah’s mistake. I chose to define this man from that moment alone. In those long months of silence Zechariah had plenty of time to reflect on that choice. I bet he even defined himself by that moment. But our God did not. As soon as John was born, God gave Zechariah his voice back and Zachariah praised God:

Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.

(Luke 1: 68).

Zechariah then went on to foretell what role his son would play, that he would go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people in the salvation of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God (vv.77-78a).

God met Zechariah with His tender mercy in those months of silent reflection. He didn’t condemn Zechariah. In fact, He allowed Zechariah to tell others HIS amazing news!

In these past couple of years, in these extraordinary circumstances, there have been plenty of times I have chosen to put my faith in what I could see or what the world has told me. I am no different than Zechariah. I’m so thankful that God has not defined me by my mess ups and continues to allow me to share about His tender mercy that shines through Jesus.

My prayer is that we all can choose to put our faith in an extraordinary God and follow HIS lead and act according to His tender mercies towards others in this coming new year.

I wish you a blessed Christmas season and a new year filled with HIS tender mercies!

Liz Folland

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