“All Square” or Grace?
My cousin and I were prone to trouble when we spent time together. We never intentionally tried to hurt anyone or anything, but we weren’t always good at discerning “cause and effect” when it came to our actions.
One summer night we were engaged in an activity which I will refer to as “lightning bug tag.” Our game involved stuffing approximately ten lightning bugs (fireflies) down the barrel of an air rifle and shooting them at each for points. I know it was cruel, but you must realize how hard it was for two young boys to resist plastering each other with luminescent material in the night.
I have since repented, and regret the fact I prevented so many lightning bugs from connecting with their soul mates in their relatively short life-spans (2 months). This is, after all, why God gave them their light apparatus.
Anyway, one night, during a game of “lightning bug tag” I accidentally loaded a BB in my gun chamber and shot my cousin. It wasn’t a “glance off of his body” shot, but rather a “pass through the first layer of skin and nearly penetrate his stomach” shot. We were both terrified, as he writhed on the ground in pain. We carefully extracted the BB, applied medication and successfully hid the incident from others. All was well between us, but I still felt guilty for shooting my cousin. Then two days later, the scale was balanced (sort of). While crossing a creek, my cousin’s gun went off and he accidentally shot me in the foot. The BB went through my shoe and bounced off of my toe.
We were “even – all square.” My debt was settled. Or was it?
Was a second accident grounds for forgiving the first one? If anything, we should have been more careful, and any further harm to either one of us was less excusable. Looking back, allowing us to have the guns in the first place was probably inexcusable. But this was 1970 and we were in the country.
Ok, I have taken a while to make my point. But I am finally there.
Our world is becoming more violent by the moment and much of the violence is retaliatory. People kill to teach others a lesson, or to carry out their own brand of justice. From gang activity to terrorist acts, scores are settled.
But we never seem to be “all square.”
Nor will we ever be.
My cousin and I were able to say we were even because we cared about one another and didn’t actually feel a need to settle the score. If I had never been shot in the foot all would have been forgiven. Getting even wasn’t necessary. Having fun together and getting on with our lives was.
In a similar way, godly grace doesn’t get even. It isn’t designed that way. If you are trying to get even with someone who has harmed you, I would like to suggest grace as a viable alternative. Getting even only serves to increase our bitterness and resentment (which runs counter to the belief we will be able to let something go if we get even). People bent on getting even spend their whole lives trying to hurt the people they believe have hurt them. While they might be successful in hurting others, they are more likely to destroy themselves as they slowly push everyone out of their lives.
I can’t tell you when and how to show grace. That’s up to you and God. But I can leave you with this important question:
What would happen if God decided to make things “all square”?