On credit scores, kindness, and grace....
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?
My husband and I are tentatively looking to buy a house. You know what comes next right? Credit scores, pre-qualifications, and a haze of financial verbiage that would make anyones head spin. From here on out, part of my day will be taken up with strategizing about how to lift that credit score, minimize debt, and maximize our resources so that the interest rate on our loan ends up just right.
The world loves to keep score. We're being graded on our finances and our accomplishments and suddenly who we are is completely tied to both what we have and what we've done. That is an incredible amount of pressure to live under, and so it's no wonder that the percentage of Americans that are suffering from depression, anxiety, addictions and other mental health issues is sky rocketing. If all we think we are is simply our mistakes, that's called living under condemnation. Under condemnation there is no hope, and if there is no hope, there is no use in striving for better.
But grace. But kindness. But love.
The 'but' changes everything. Insert Christ and the work He accomplished on the cross, insert the Love of God, and suddenly there is hope; even if I've made mistakes, even if I didn't make the best choices. God isn't grading us like the bank is. There is no heavenly credit score.
But isn't that enabling? No, it's freeing.
Let me recount a story that happened while I was nannying some years ago. I used to sit for two little mischievous boys. Their dad was a very strict Jewish banker which meant he did not tolerate nonsense. On a cold winter day, we all came home to find one of the wife's favorite vases broken. The father looked from boy to boy and you could see their fear. Neither one of them was going to admit that they had broken the vase. Frustrated they asked me to see if I could wiggle out a confession.
I sent both boys to their rooms to sit for a few minutes while I whipped up some cookies and milk. Then I sat on each of their beds and in the kindest voice I had, I let them know that whatever they had done, whatever they had broken, it would be okay. To my surprise, the youngest one looked up with tears in his eyes and confessed that he had thrown a ball and knocked the vase down. The kindness and grace shown became a filter for their future behavior and from then on, whenever they had done something wrong, they repented. Don't get me wrong, they were disciplined, but condemnation no longer defined them.
The kindness, grace, and love of God- that is the road to true repentance and change. Free from condemnation, we can grow and flourish into the people that God created us to be.
Now, if only we could convince banks that grace is profitable. ;-)