Compassion for Transgressors (Proverbs 28:13)

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes [them] will find compassion.

Proverbs 28:13

This proverb is the gospel message in a nutshell. I know that there are folks who think that the message Jesus preached at His first coming was something new, but it really was not. It was the same message that God had been sending to us all since the beginning of The Bible all the way through to its end; from Genesis to Revelation. Verse after verse reminds me that I need to repent and receive compassion. Verse after verse reminds me that compassion is only available because of what God has done for me.

There is something overwhelmingly comforting in the phrasing of this verse, though, namely the use of the word transgressions. I know that some will see the word and will roll on through the verse without a moment’s pause. But the word speaks to my deliberate wrongdoing, not my accidental or circumstantial wrongs. A transgression is a known wrong — I know full well what God wants me to do and I do not do it or I do something diametrically opposed to what God would have me do. I should drag those transgressions; those acts of rebellion against my loving God  out into the open and I will find compassion. That is comfort for a frightened rebel.

The tense of the word used to say that I will find compassion is the imperfect, which can mean that I will continue to find compassion no matter how many times I drag a new rebellion; a new transgression into the open.

The promise is conditional, though. It is predicated on my not only bringing my rebellion into the open, but on my confessing and forsaking it. If I will admit to my rebellion and resolve to rebel no more in that way, then God will show me compassion. No matter that I may have genuinely made that resolution before and failed to keep it. There is no mention of whether or not I must succeed in abandoning my rebellion the first or one-hundred-first time. The point is that I recognize my rebellion as rebellious and resolve to stop. Though I fail a hundred times, God will forgive a hundred times more.  There is no limit placed on that compassion, only condition.

In what place am I rebelling? I know that I have lately been failing to do all things without grumbling (Philippians 2:14). Let me admit my rebellion and seek to abandon it by the strength of God. In doing so, I will find compassion and mercy.


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