Learning Grace in an Unlikely Place

8 08 2006

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5.6)

During our time on vacation I spent a considerable time in a courtroom for my sister-in-law’s sentencing. As I sat with my family and looked across the room at those who were marched in for sentencing each day I was captivated. I stared at their shackles, their expressions, their body language and their plight.

I found myself evaluating things. I even caught myself in some erroneous momentary thinking. Those in the yellow suits were criminals and so therefore “bad”. Those on the other side in the business suits were attorneys and so therefore “good”. The families sat separated from their criminal members and they were “good”. The judge and the bailiffs wore their uniforms and they were likewise distinguished from the offenders.

My erroneous thinking came from a seed of self-exaltation (idolatry). I thought (albeit momentarily) that the difference between us and them is education. See the lawyers have gone to school and are smart and they can defend & prosocute these folks. We are not in shackles because we are educated, right?! Wrong.

It is not education that is the distinguisher but grace. It is nothing but the sovereign extension of divine grace to the lives of unworthy rebels that keeps you and I from shackles. Furthermore, for me as a Christian, it is the specific application of redemptive grace that purchased me from myself and my sin to cut off the bondage of sin. And it is the persevering power of that divine grace that keeps me in the love of God that I not perish while leaning on my own power.

How dare I muse upon my education or my accumulated wisdom while impugning others. How very Pharisaical!

This is a good providential reminder for me that grace that is not realized and rejoiced in is not valued. I surely had not preached the cross to my own heart this day for if I had it would have shuddered at such nonsense. Join me in valuing the grace of God in Christ while devaluing self.

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