Even though he knew in his heart that he was guilty, he went through the routine we all might expect to give in such a predicament… He was a safe driver. He normally drove at or under the speed limit. He had never even pulled over before, let alone been given a ticket… Only, today, in this one incident, when he was late, trying to get to a ballgame, had he inadvertently exceeded the speed limit. He would be more careful next time. Etc, etc…
The response from the officer? “Well, then, you’re just gonna bit a bit later now. You can just sit right here while I write you out a ticket!”
About three weeks later, the man was behind the plate and preparing for the opening pitch. Lo, and behold, who walked up to the plate as the first batter but the very same policeman who had given him the ticket?!
Recognizing the awkwardness of the moment, the cop decided to be proactive and break the ice by venturing the following question: “How did that ticket ever work out for you?” “Oh, it turned out alright,” said the umpire, “But, I’ll tell you right now that you had better go ahead and swing at every single pitch that’s thrown!”
We get the point, do we not! The umpire was serving notice that, in his opinion at least, the officer was now about get everything he deserved! This, of course, raises a crucial question – just what if we each got exactly what we deserved?!
If we did, of course, we would get God’s displeasure, God’s judgment, and God’s punishment. But the surprising message of the Bible is that God gives us, not what we deserve, by rather grace! As the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah puts it (chapter 30, verse 18): “…the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.” Amen!
I write this today, just a couple of hours after a young sixteen year old girl who lives nearby came knocking at my door to tell me she had just hit our mailbox. She did not know that another lady, who had witnessed the whole affair, had already come and told us what happened. Nor did she know that I had already been out to the mailbox, assessed the damage, and even made the repairs.
For my part, I listened to her apology, and then told her it was alright, and that we all make mistakes. I also told her that I already knew of the incident, and that I had already taken care of the matter. I told her that all I required was that she tell her parents what had happened, and then learn from the experience. Visibly grateful, she wiped her tears, apologized yet again, and departed.
What I did not tell her was that she had just gone through a near universal experience – that of a driver’s first accident. I did not tell her that my son took out no less than three mailboxes between the age of sixteen and twenty one. Nor did I tell her that my wife, at age 15, while driving her parents’ station wagon with her learner’s license and mother aboard, took out a mailbox at 50 mph.
Above all, I did not tell her that I myself had bent more than my share of mailboxes, fenders, and bumpers down through the years. But what I did tell her was that we all make mistakes; and that what mattered was that she owned up to hers, and learned from the experience. (Just as my son, my wife, and yes, even I, had once done. And, my suspicion is, just as you too, my friend, if you are a licensed driver, have also done!)
In effect, I showed her grace. Why? Precisely because of what Jesus Christ Himself once postulated: “To whom much is given, much is required!” Actually, the New Testament Gospel of Luke (chapter 12, verse 48) puts it this way: “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”
And now, as Paul Harvey would say, for the rest of the story… At age 16, as I was leaving church one warm summer Sunday evening, I backed right into the taillight of Mr. Roy Harkness, who was none other than our church’s Minister of Music. Sick to my stomach and scared to death, I sought him out and laid bare my soul!
To his everlasting credit, he recognized what an insurance claim would likely do to my rates, and so told me that, because I had sought him out and confessed, he would get an estimate and have me pay half. Three days later, on Wednesday evening, he told me the bill would be $90. The following Sunday, I gratefully handed him an extremely hard earned $45.
Roy Harkness is now in Heaven. I will be there one day. Once I am, I intend to seek him out and thank him for his lesson in grace. And who knows, I may well discover at that time that I am approached by some hitherto unknown young kid who was shown grace when they backed into either the bumper or the mailbox of a lady, who had herself earlier been shown grace by me when she backed into mine!
And all this is surely just as God Himself had intended! What I have been freely given, I have in turn chosen to freely give! For as we learn from the grace shown us by His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, “To whom much is given, truly, much is required!”
SCRIPTURE SOURCES: https://biblehub.com/isaiah/30-18.htm;