Sometimes the kindness and mercy of people who don’t know the Lord, to our shame, eclipse that of those who claim to be Christians and are followers of the true God! I read just such an account this morning during “Coffee with the Lord!”
Just before Judah was taken into exile by Babylon because of their sinful ways, Jehoiachin served as king in Judah. Here is what the Bible says about him: “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king… And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father had done. At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged… The king of Babylon took him prisoner…and carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasuries of the king’s house…as the lord had foretold. He carried away all Jerusalem and the the officials and all the mighty men of valor, 10,000 captives. None remained, except the poorest people of the land.” (From II Kings 24:-14) What was to follow was 70 years of captivity.
But then you read a surprising passage in the Bible – a surprising and unusual act of mercy and kindness to a captive king: “And in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, Evil-merodach king of Babylon [successor to Nebuchadnezzar], in the year that he began to reign, graciously freed Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table, and for his allowance, a regular allowance was given him by the king, according to his daily needs, as long as he lived.” (2 Kings 25:27–30)
I don’t know the motives – I cannot explain what prompted this act of kindness and mercy by a pagan king on an undeserving captive king – but it happened. Sometimes the kindness of people who do not know the Lord or worship Him stuns (and even shames) us who follow Him! They exhibit mercy and grace that ought to characterize us! Try these verses on for size…
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful!” (Luke 6:35–36)
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12-14)
Take it from me, I don’t want to be shamed by the unusual mercy of those who are not followers of Christ – I want to lead the way, and exhibit the kind of grace and mercy He extended to me, a guilty sinner deserving punishment! Help me Lord to do it!