So then, everything depends, not on what we humans want or do, but only on God’s mercy. Romans 9:16 (GNT)

This time there was no avoiding it. I was cornered with no way out. He’d been my friend since, well, since I can remember. We grew up together, fished together, played ball together and occasionally, got into childhood fights together.

During a particularly tough time in my life I was in dire need of financial help. Jim was the guy who’d come to my rescue. It was a significantly large amount of money, a loan with no interest and no payback date. At the time I saw no other options. I accepted the offer and eventually dug myself out of a hole I’d prepared for myself.

Lately, I’d been avoiding Jim. I didn’t even realize it until later, but every time our paths crossed I felt a twinge of guilt and apprehension. I’d fallen behind on some of the payments and felt guilty for it. He’d trusted me. He’d known my situation and was willing to take a chance on me. Now, I’d failed him and I wasn’t sure how to dig myself out of this new hole. That’s why his words dug so deeply and so quickly.

“Is there something wrong between us man? You seem distant.”

I had to come clean. “I’ve fallen behind on my payments and I feel terrible. I feel like I’ve really let you down, like I’ve failed you, like…”

That’s when he stepped back and looked at me with a look of confusion and shock.

“Is this all about that stupid money? Good grief man! Don’t worry about it. Debt forgiven.”

I was taken back, moved to the point of tears. I didn’t know what to say. Then I mumbled something like, “That’s very gracious of you. Thank you. I’ll try to pay it back somehow.”

I wish I could have grabbed that word bubble back. As soon as I said it I realized how stupid it sounded.

Jim smiled, “No Pastor, you don’t understand. I forgave you. There’s nothing you did to earn it. There’s nothing you can do to repay it. It’s forgiven.”

As we parted, closer than ever, I realized what had just happened. I’d been reminded of two things. One is that God’s grace and forgiveness is nothing we can earn. The second thing I learned is how silly we humans sound when we try to repay a debt we can never repay.

Jim taught me what grace really means that day, and I realized how often to make promises to a God that he knows I can’t fulfill, but he loves me anyway. Why do we try to repay him when the debt has already been paid?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. There are some any times I fail you. So many times I make silly promises I know I can never fulfill. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your grace. I receive it willingly. Amen.