"Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
John 8:11 (NKJV)
Sometimes we learn of grace in the strangest ways! A few years ago, Matthew, my nephew, was fishing in his grandfather’s pond. He allowed the boat to drift next to a vertical overflow pipe so he could fish near the dam. The problem was that the pipe was rusted out and broke off at the bottom of the pond.
Matthew came running to his home and asked his dad to come quickly. He needed help! His father could hear an ominous roar down in the direction of the pond. When they arrived at the pond, water was shooting sixty feet out from the lower side of the dam. Matthew was hoping they could do something to stop the draining of the lake but it completely emptied the lake.
Matthew’s next challenge was to tell his grandfather that they no longer owned a lake. With great apology Matthew told his grandfather how he didn’t intend to cause any harm and he would try to pay off whatever it took to repair what he had done.
The lake was repaired and the repair bill was sent to his grandfather. When Matthew came into the house, his grandfather handed him the bill. The first thing Matthew saw was the price, $6,000. Matthew became very upset knowing an eleven year old boy finds paying $6,000 almost impossible.
It was at that point that his grandfather showed Matthew something else on the bill. Across the bill was written, “Paid in Full.” Matthew was told he didn’t owe anything because his grandfather had paid it all. Being family has its benefits!
On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” In the original language, this was the phrase written on a bill which meant, “Paid in full.” The statement of Christ was meant to be heard by helpless people who cannot pay their own debts. It is a statement meant to remove the burden owed and celebrate what it means to be in the family of God.
We owe a debt we can never pay. Jesus pays a debt he never owed. We call that grace! I celebrate a godly grandfather that is willing to be an illustration of God’s grace. No greater testimony can be given than to write off a debt owed to show another how it feels to be forgiven. Matthew will never forget his grandfather or the lesson.
Matthew continues to fish in the lake that could have been his “Waterloo.” He has caught much more than he ever imagined in that lake. He caught the blessing of someone who lived what they said they believe. May we all learn how to say, “I forgive you.”
Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www. psdbc.org.