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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pancakes and syrup

I saw a sign out in front of a local church as I passed by this week.  It read:  Grace gives, sin brings loss.  I don't know the origin of this particular saying - or who to give credit to for saying it - but I do believe it speaks volumes!  In fact, I'd like us to consider it this way:  What grace gives is exactly what sin took away.  I also like to think of it this way:  Grace gives love; sin gives loss.  We "lose" when we sin - we "gain" when we embrace grace in our lives.

Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.  (Romans 6:14 NLT)

Consider this for a moment with me.  Sin brings loss.  Loss by definition is the failure to get, keep, or have.  In other words, when we sin, we might have had something, but we cannot keep hold of it very long.  For example, when we embrace a critical attitude toward another individual, we lose respect for them.  Where respect might have been at one time, criticism and nit-picking enter into that place.  Yes, something "filled" the "space" occupied by respect, but it was a far inferior thing which "filled" the space!  Sin brings something we just don't really want in the first place, but "space" is occupied by what is most frequently embraced!

Sin brings loss not only in what "replaces" what should "dwell" in a particular "space" in us, but it also brings loss because we are always trying to "get" something "else".  In other words, sin leaves us very dissatisfied.  Sure, space is filled with something, but what we are filled with leads to disappointment and dissatisfaction.  When we are experiencing either characteristic, we generally tend to search for something else to fill the space.  If we did not "lose" something totally with sin, our "wandering" to find something else to fill the space created by our sin will almost always ensure we lose the rest of what we may have been able to hold onto.  

The first experiment with drugs doesn't make us an addict.  The first taste of chocolate doesn't make us obese.  The first flirtation with someone other than our spouse doesn't make us an adulterer.  Yet, if we were honest, each "little compromise" leads us to consider an even bigger one.  In the end, the "little" space occupied by the subtlest of compromises becomes a huge pit.  The pit pulls us in until we are so aware of the despair of the pit that we just ache for what we once had.

Grace, on the other hand, gives something of a more satisfying effect - love.  Think of it this way:  Sin is like doing subtraction - you never end up with more, but less.  Grace is like doing addition - you always end up with more!  The basis of grace is really love - "For God so loved..."  The action of grace is giving - "...that he gave his only begotten son..."  The result of grace is gain - "...that whosoever believes in him will have everlasting life."

We often don't see the effect of sin until we experience the depth of its loss. We almost always experience the effect of grace because love is something which is like syrup on pancakes.  It might run all over the "surface" at first, but when it gets on us, it seeps in until it permeates all the tiny crevices!  For those of us who bear the loss of sin, love has a lot of space to "permeate".  The good news is that God's love is always willing to seek out the smallest "spaces" in order to permeate each and every one!

So, the sign may have been a simple message, but it carries volumes in truth.  The idea of grace giving and sin taking is invaluable for us to learn.  What we give up to sin, God's grace is able to not only "replace", but also to "repair".  This is good news, isn't it?  The idea of "replacing" something is good - we gain something which is new.  Yet, sin often destroys some of the stuff we really don't want to part with - like relationships.  In this case, God's grace goes about "repairing" what was lost as a result of our sin.  Nothing can do as good of a job of "repairing" what we managed to destroy like God's grace.  Why?  Simply because God's grace is equated to his love - only his love can put two at opposite spectrums back into the same sphere of orbit once again.

Grace gives what sin takes away - not just to "fill the space", but to "repair" and "replenish" that space!  Just sayin!