It’s been said, “We’re like beasts when we kill. We’re like men when we judge. We’re like God when we forgive.” Those of us who have been on the receiving end of forgiveness know what a gift God’s grace is!
Years ago, I learned that forgiveness involves another kind of grace as well. While I was a seminary student, I lied to one of my professors. I told him I’d finished a reading assignment that in truth I’d yet to complete. As our grade was based on the honor system, I received a decent grade based on the belief that I’d completed the reading. Years later, the Lord convicted me of the need to come clean with my professor. I wrote him a letter, confessing my lie and seeking to make it right in whatever way possible. I waited anxiously for his reply, fearing possible repercussions. It couldn’t have been more than two weeks before I received the following letter from him:Dear Mark, Thank you for your good letter! I value deeply your willingness to acknowledge your failure to list your reading accurately for the course. The pressure to ratify course requirements can be a temptation! But through this you have received grace to acknowledge this. Calvin said that true and lasting repentance follows our union with Christ through grace. I accept your confession as a sign of God’s grace in your life – and you should too! God bless you in your continued ministry and study – (and read the book because you want to, not because you have to!) Cordially, Ray S. Andersen
Needless to say, God used Dr. Andersen to show me His amazing grace in a whole new way. I received two graces that day. First, there was the grace of forgiveness. This is what I had asked for in the first place, and it was quite a relief to receive it after all that time! But, there was another grace that I experienced even prior to that. Dr. Andersen’s letter taught me that it was grace that led me to repentance and confession in the first place. This was a grace I had not asked for, but God granted anyway. Perhaps this is what Paul had in mind in his letter to the Romans when he said, “the kindness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).