“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Rev. Steve Brown says that a friend once told him a story about a little boy named Billy.
“Billy was in the classroom working on his studies, and then to his horror, he looked down and saw a spreading puddle at his feet. When he realized what had happened, Billy was horrified and humiliated. The worst part was that the teacher was headed down the aisle his way. Billy didn’t know what to do.
There was no way to hide it or cover it. There was no way he could change it. He died inside as the teacher got closer and closer to his desk. Billy knew that the other children would make fun of him and he would never live it down. Just as the teacher reached Billy’s desk, his classmate Sally walked by carrying a fish bowl. She was going to change the water.
When she got to Billy’s desk, she slipped, spilling water all over him and all over the floor. Everybody, including the teacher, was quick to help clean up the mess. They thought it was one mess, but Billy knew it was two. He had been saved.
Later that day at the bus stop, Billy saw Sally and quietly said to her, ‘You did that on purpose, didn’t you? That wasn’t an accident, was it?’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘it wasn’t an accident.’ ‘Why did you do that?’ She smiled and said, ‘It happened to me once.’ If you had been there that day, you would have noticed a little girl and a little boy holding hands and laughing. And you would have felt good even though you wouldn’t have known ‘the rest of the story.’”
This story is a wonderful example of what it looks like to live by grace. You can only love to the degree that you’ve been loved. You can only forgive to the degree that you’ve been forgiven.
In Luke 7, Jesus explains that the one who is forgiven much loves much but the one who is forgiven little loves little. What would people say about you? Are you quick to forgive or do you like to hold a grudge?
The wonder of the Gospel is that God has every reason to hold a grudge against you and me. The Bible makes it clear that every part of our being has been corrupted by sin. We are a thankless, rebellious, and hard-hearted bunch. Our sinfulness has separated us from God.
The bad news about us is more than we can stomach and yet the good news about God is more than we could ever dream up. God doesn’t hold grudges but he loves to forgive. The most amazing part of all is that our forgiveness was not free and it didn’t come cheap.
Forgiveness is never free but always costs the giver a great deal. It cost God the life of His one and only Son. The Father forsook Jesus so that He could forgive you and me of all our sin.