Today, I forgot a grading sheet, also known as a scantron, where I bubble my answers for exams. My sociology teacher, Dr. K, could have, should have, not let me go get a scantron during the test, but she did. I should’ve gotten a 0 on the test, but I didn’t. She had mercy on me, and let me leave class to find a scantron and bubble in my answers.
The Lord could have, should have, made us pay for our sins against Him, but He didn’t. Instead, He had mercy on us. Dr. K did have an amazing amount of mercy on me, but I also went and had to find a scantron, which I shouldn’t have been able to do, but she allowed me to do it. Beyond even Dr. K’s mercy, the Lord gives grace. Not only does He not punish us for our sins, He doesn’t make us pay for them; His Son did. Dr. K didn’t have a scantron, so the only option was to go get one. I had to do a calves-burning speed walk, with beads of sweat on my face, and awkwardly plea to every person I passed if they had one I could pay them for. It was work and a little embarrassing. Thankfully, I ended up receiving one from a friend in my class, who didn’t make me pay her for it (shout out to Tawshawnie!). Although I received mercy, I still had to run around like a chicken with my head cut off screaming for a gray scantron. The Lord doesn’t require us to do that. He gives us a scantron (grace) without the work. Sometimes, we like to half way work for grace by being a good person, and then when we realize we’re going to have to go really far to get it (like from the Library to the Student Center), we get desperate and will ask anyone. Which, in reality, no one can give us grace for our sins except the Lord. We search for it in other religions and people through good deeds. Thank the Lord that we don’t have to work. He did all of it for us and gives us abundant life.
Part of this process of accepting the Lord’s mercy and grace is realizing that we deserve the death Jesus died just like I deserved a zero on my exam.
“Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth” (Romans 2:2, NIV).
The truth is that we are in debt up to our ears in sin, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Ultimately, we deserve hell and punishment because we’re sinning against an all-righteous, holy God.
Dr. K told us weeks ago to get a grey scantron, and I just didn’t write it down to remember. I got to class ten minutes early, looked over my notes, but didn’t once think about the fact that I needed a scantron until I saw everyone else’s. And then, it hit me like a bag of rocks on question twelve. I had to have a scantron to pass this exam, or get any points at all. In my forgetfulness and carelessness I forgot. Aren’t we this way in our sin? Many of us don’t even understand we need forgiveness and grace until we realize that we can’t make it through this life without it. Until we can come to grips with the fact that we aren’t getting an A+ in our teacher’s grade book until we get a scantron, we will keep failing classes. Likewise, we must figure out that we aren’t going to have abundant life here or go to heaven by being a good person because we can’t keep up that act if we tried
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12, NIV).
In other words, we have all forgotten our scantrons and deserve zeroes. The Lord in His love and compassion didn’t punish us for what we deserve. Instead, He gave Himself in human form to take our punishment, which was death.
“And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith” (Romans 3:24-25, NIV).
The fact that Dr. K exhibited mercy made me like her as a person even more. It motivates me to want to do well in her class. Hey, I’ll even go to Sociology club. The Lord’s mercy, and beyond that, grace, should lead us to repentance and good works for His Kingdom for His glory.
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of kindness, forbearance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:7, NIV).
We don’t get abundant life through good works, but it’s our response to God of gratitude. Honestly, when we recognize the Lord’s goodness, we should praise and serve Him because we can’t help but do so. There will be days when you don’t want to, and that’s when discipline comes in. Once you accept His forgiveness, love, and grace, you’re whole purpose is to give Him glory, and a lot of times that’s done through what you do. If we are ever struggling with something God is asking of us, remember that He didn’t give us a measurable grace. Ephesians 1:7-8 says that “in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the RICHES of God’s grace that he LAVISHED on us” (emphasis, mine). He didn’t give us one scantron for one exam. He has given us everything we need for life now and after death. That should springboard us to live lives for His glory.
Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re laughing at me because you know you would never, ever forget a scantron on exam day. There’s a good possibility that’s true. You may never, ever need to run across campus screaming like a maniac for a grey scantron. I can promise you, however, that you will need mercy and grace at some point in your life, and sooner rather than later.