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Lent 2016: February 28, Day 19 -Get What We Deserve

When we don't get what we deserve
That's a real good thing, a real good thing
When we get what we don't deserve
That's a real good thing, a real good thing

In my Lenten posts from February 17-21, I was exploring the Lord's Prayer as a template for daily prayer. As I mentioned in the previous post on forgiveness, I see the line in the Lord's Prayer, ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. as two different topics, asking forgiveness and giving forgiveness. So I split them in separate posts. The previous post, covering the first half, was pretty heavy, so it's taken a little time to come back.

Matthew 6:9-13 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Many aspects of life have an earthly component and a heavenly component. Physical and spiritual, intertwined, but distinct from one another. Forgiveness is a great example of that. First, let's examine the obvious physical component.

In the early post I used the example of kids on a playground one hurts the other and they both feel better by going through the forgiveness process, even though the one causing the injury couldn't do anything to actually heal the wound. The one who was hurt will be paying the price of pain.

For a more severe example, think of a drunk driver hurting an innocent driver in another car. The one who is injured has to pay a price, and may have to continue paying that price for a long time. We can punish the drunk driver and force him or her to pay costs associated with the accident, but the pain and suffering has to be paid by the one injured.

Depressing, right?

But it is important to realize that life is long and complicated and we are going to end up hurting one another, from a stubbed toe on the playground and those much more severe. Some will be intentional, some accidental, some with an obvious culprit, and some where the injury is made up in one's own head. But more than likely, we'll hurt others and be hurt by them.

Romans 6:23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sin has a spiritual or eternal side, as does forgiveness. We an all find forgiveness through the work of Jesus Christ. And He asks us to hand out the kind of forgiveness we want to receive from Him. Complete and total.

Now, some of us have a stubborn streak in us; and if someone really makes us mad or hurts us or our loved ones, we may be tempted to hold on to our grudge, not caring about the consequences to ourselves.

But there is an interesting twist built into this physical/spiritual forgiveness dance. While God let's us be the gatekeeper of forgiveness for sin that ends up hurting us, He also offers us an incentive to turn the whole business over to Him:

Romans 12:19-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

That is to say, if you forgive even your most hated enemy for his or her most vile, selfish, harmful act, maybe even an act that will leave you paying the consequences of loss and pain, you leave a clear path for God to deal with that person.

God may give that person mercy, just as we have received at times- even though we didn't deserve it. But, He may also "heap burning coals on his head", which God can't do it you decide you'd rather hang on to your claim.

We don't know who needs or deserves mercy at any given moment and who deserves heaps of coal- and we can't trust our own limited knowledge to discern.  We can put it in the hands of God, knowing He can sort it out better better than we can.

It comes down to this for me, as reflected in the Newsboys' lyrics that opened the post, with the complete lyrics below. I am extremely grateful that I don't always get what I deserve, because I know that I have sinned greatly and deserve other than the grace that I have been given. All of our sins are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, but mine are blotted out by the blood of Jesus, because I am forgiven. I don't deserve that. It's a real good thing.

I trust God to do the same with my enemies and those who own me. If I take a pass on collecting their debt, then God can decide if He wants them to pay it or if He'll pay for it Himself with the blood of Jesus. But if I want to hold on to the debt, it can only weigh me down with anger and resentment. That's a burden I'd rather live without.

So when I pray each day for God to forgive my sins, trespasses, and debts, I always ask for His help forgiving any sins, trespasses, or debts owed to me- so that the issue is off of my plate and on the One who truly knows what the right outcome needs to be.

I'm grateful for all of the times I didn't get what I deserved because of grace.

And I got what I didn't deserve because of love.

Amen.

 

Complete Lyrics to Real Good Thing by Newsboys (from the Going Public album)

via Google Play lyrics

When we don't get what we deserve
That's a real good thing, a real good thing
When we get what we don't deserve
That's a real good thing, a real good thing

Born to sin and then get caught
All our good deeds, don't mean squat
Sell the Volvo, shred the Visa
Send the cash to Ma Theresa
Great idea, the only catch is
You don't get saved on merit badges

When we don't get what we deserve
That's a real good thing, a real good thing
When we get what we don't deserve
That's a real good thing, a real good thing

Doctor's coming, looking grim
"Do you have a favorite hymn?"
Check your balance through the years
All accounts are in arrears
Guilt is bitter, grace is sweet
Park it here on the mercy seat

When we don't get what we deserve
That's a real good thing, a real good thing
When we get what we don't deserve
That's a real good thing, a real good thing

(repeated)

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