Allow me to begin with a disclaimer: our legal system maintains that a person is innocent until proven guilty.
This past Wednesday I watched the breaking news coverage of a multi-millionaire professional football player being removed from his palatial home in the suburbs in handcuffs, accused of murder. One thought crossed my mind: what could have possibly happened in this man’s life which would have caused him to forfeit everything? I cannot imagine waking up on a king-sized bed with 1,000 count sheets and going to bed that same night on a cot in jail. A life was lost, a family sits in mourning, an 8-month old little girl will have to visit daddy at the house of corrections – what utter devastation for apparently no reason.
The Bible tells us that before we can remove the sawdust in another person’s eye, we must first remove the plank in our own eye (Matthew 7:5). Before I can judge this former NFL player, I’d need to search my own heart. While I cannot see myself standing before the court under a charge of murder, there are things that I’ve done and things that I do which produces devastation for apparently no reason. I have lied, damaging my credibility and another’s reputation. I have stolen, diminishing the store owners livelihood and my reliance upon God’s provision. I have gossiped (sometimes calling it ‘concern”), envied (sometimes calling it ‘motivation’), and brawled (sometimes calling it ‘righteous indignation’). And these are the things I am willing to confess in a public forum.
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….” Romans 3:23
We are not so different, are we? We all have sinned. We all have fallen short of God’s glory. We don’t begin the day thinking that we will violate the law (civil or spiritual), but we do. We don’t plan on causing pain with our words and deeds, but we do. Oftentimes we don’t get caught, but occasionally we do. And when we do get caught, we are confronted with the consequences of our destructive behavior.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Our acts and attitudes of rebellion deserve judgment and God’s just penalty for sin is death. The bad news for us, as sinners, is that God is perfectly just, always addressing every sin with a righteous penalty. The good news remains that God is also gracious, giving all who are His the gift of eternal life, allowing someone else to step into our place before the court and assuming the penalty our acts and attitude deserve. The Apostle Paul wrote that at just the right time, Jesus died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6) – He accepted the death sentence earned by our ungodly acts and attitudes.
Who knows what will happen in the Bristol County Courthouse in the months ahead. What we can know is what will happen in the halls of justice in heaven – either we will assume the penalty of our sinful actions ourselves or we will trust Jesus to assume them in our place. Justice will be served. Thank God, He has gifted all who trust him with the gift of eternal life!