Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Problem With Grace

A few months ago my wife came home with a present for me. It was completely unexpected. She bought me this really nice mint colored dress shirt from the GAP.

She also decided to surprise me with a few clothes for herself. Nope. Not neglige, you dirty interweb creeps. She bought a new dress and a new blouse and some new perfume. So, what began as a surprise present for me, quickly became $120 worth of "You spent how much?? On what??"

For a split second, I felt like Ricky Ricardo. If I could have ranted and raved in Spanish, I would have.

My immediate reaction was to take it all back...except the perfume. She really was out and needed a new bottle. However, neither of us needed the new clothes. She argued that she really wanted me to have the shirt, that she'd take the other stuff back, but I had to keep the shirt. I felt bad. It was very sweet of her to have gone in to buy me a shirt, so after asking her to model the dress and the blouse for me, I forgave her, told her I loved her and said she could keep them.

"Forgave her?" you might protest. "What did she do wrong?"

Well, for starters she spent over $100 of money we didn't have on clothes we didn't need without talking to me first. She and I talk over decisions like that. I suppose it's up for debate as to whether or not the actual purchase was wrong. At least, though she didn't communicate with me, and made a poor financial choice. She knew this. She was sheepish and embarrassed about it from the start.

I was upset, but I forgave her. That's what love does.

Later, I realized that she'd committed a pretty serious infraction, but that I'd let it go quite quickly. I decided to inquire about it. I asked her if she'd thought she'd gotten off easy. She admitted that that had been one of her first thoughts.

And that's the problem with grace. We all want justice. We want the people who have wronged us, or wronged at all, for that matter, to learn their lesson, to be punished appropriately for their crime. However, I'd already extended grace. I couldn't go back and try to force her to learn some lesson now, could I? No. That's it. She'd gotten away with something. There was nothing I could do.

We all deal with this fear, from time to time. Whether it's friends, a spouse, or a child...we fear that they'll figure out how to get away with something, and that once they've learned, they'll do it again if they get the chance. Ferial told me that she knew she'd done something wrong, and that she didn't plan on making a habit out of this. She said that she hoped that this didn't happen again.

So, I believed her. This is something else love does.

And here's the beauty of grace.

My wife and I are Christians. We've put our faith and trust in Jesus.

The Bible says that once a person does that, that they are a new creation in Christ. That they are literally re-created from the inside out. We've not got new bodies. That's yet to come. However, we've got new spirits. The old has died, buried with Christ. The new has come, resurrected to be like him. We still struggle with sin. We still wrestle with the world, the flesh, and the devil, but being a new creation means, in part, that we want to be good, charitable, and kind. Scripture says that the person who is born of the Spirit desires the things the Spirit desires.

Therefore, when my wife tells me that she wants to do good, I believe her. Her mind, her spirit, her will - are led by the Spirit of God. She is a new creation in Christ, in whom we've both received reconciliation with God, by his death on the cross.

Christ lived a sinless life, and yet he died the death of a criminal, betrayed by his friends and forsaken by God - forsaken by his Father. Why? Because in the act of sacrificing himself on the cross, he took upon himself the full force of God's wrath. He who knew no sin, became sin, providing forgiveness for sins, for those who would believe.

His death brought us life. His punishment brought us forgiveness.

Justice was served...and it doesn't seem fair, does it?

That is both the beauty of and the problem with grace.

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