If a man digs a pit, he will fall into it; if a man rolls a stones, it will roll back on him. Proverbs 26, verse 27.
This one isn’t too hard to figure out: it’s consequences. Specifically, it’s about negative consequences. A few days ago we talked about justice and how what goes around comes around. Sow evil and you’ll reap evil. Be dramatic and others will be dramatic to you. Cause trouble and you’ll end up with trouble. That just makes sense.
Haven’t we all done it? I mean, haven’t you caused your share of drama only to have it backfire on you? I know I have. At forty-five, it’s a habit I’m blessed but hard-pressed to break (but it’s way overdue). We have all gotten into situations, willingly or unwillingly, that have come back to bite us. Break the law and, eventually, you’ll be caught. Cover up something and, in time, it will be uncovered. Cheat and you’ll be cheated on; lie and you’ll be lied to. The list goes on and on.
This rather pessimistic verse says that, for every x, there is a y. It’s an Isaac Newton verse about actions and reacations. To me, it’s just one more reminder of how Scripture is both common sense and the basis for common sense. Long before Sir Isaac discerned the basics of gravity, Scripture ordained things to be so. If you mess up, you’ll pay for it. If you throw a ball through a window, someone is going to be angry. If you do one thing, something else will happen.
Here’s the equal and opposite reaction: grace. Grace is an amazing concept if you think about it. Grace is mercy, favor, forgiveness, goodwill, kindness, beauty, motion, a delay in consequences, undeserved, and free. It isn’t just the forgiveness: it’s the motivation behind the forgiveness. We don’t deserve grace, but for every transgression we can do to each other, we have the option to respond in grace, to give mercy and forgiveness where just the opposite would be expected. Grace is faith put into practice. It is responding to a wrong with benefit to the party that wronged you. Instead of the consequences that our actions deserve, grace responds by saying “let me help you.” Instead of an eye for an eye, grace says, “I care.”
It flows down from God like Niagara Falls. Grace is the tool He uses to show who He really is. And behind the grace, supporting it and feeding it, is that undeniable and all fulfilling love. Amazing thing. My neighbor cusses me out and I should have pity on him. Love replaces sin. That’s simply not of this world.
Paying that forward and passing it on is no easy task. You’ve probably been hurt as much as I have, and (this is going to sting) you’ve probably hurt other people as much as I have. Yes, we’ve done it in different ways, but we’re both hurting and hurt-causers. THAT is the condition of a fallen nature; it’s natural to dig pits and then fall into them. In a fallen world, it’s natural to roll big stones that roll back on us. What is unnatural – supernatural actually – is divine grace. He gives it to us and wants us to pass it around. We don’t deserve the mercy; we deserve the nails. He chose the nails because He gave freely of that mercy. When we follow God, we discover that mercy is the consequence of grace, and that grace is His chosen consequence for the things that we do to wrong Him and each other. Personally, I’d rather have that than someone whacking me upside the head with all of my faults.