Did you all see the last Saints game? It was on Monday night football and it was against the 49ers. For younger Saints fans, the 49ers are just another team out there. But if you grew up with the Saints, you will remember in the days of Joe Montana and Steve Young, it was rare for the Saints to win against the 49ers – especially in San Francisco. But we did it last Monday night. And what was particularly satisfying was the way we won it. Younger fans probably yearned for a blow out. But I loved seeing us win just the way we did, with the game going back and forth, and then the Saints winning in the last seconds. Why was that satisfying? Because it was just the way we used to lose the games against the 49ers. The Saints rarely got blown out by the 49ers. Indeed, we were often in them till the last minutes. But the 49ers would always eek out the victory. Now the shoe was on the other foot. Even Steve Young himself noted this in the commentary at the end of the game.
Regardless of whether you are a football fan or not, or a Saints fan or not, I think this light illustration points to something important. We all, no matter who we are “for” in life, want things to be fair. We want them to be equitable and just. If we are “down” for a time, we hope to be “up” at another time. If we put in the effort, we hope for a payoff. If someone is dishonest, we want them to get caught. We want life to be fair.
Spiritually though, this puts us in a conundrum. We know the only way to God is through grace. It is no small coincidence that amazing grace is the most popular hymn of all time. It is the hallmark of the Christian church (by grace we are saved through faith). But isn’t grace counter to our tendency to want things to be “fair, equitable, and just”? How can we logically want both grace and fairness?
Jesus had an answer for this. You can find it in his words over and over again. If you want grace, then give grace. Grace will be given to those who offer it. That doesn’t mean we go out and be gracious to save our sorry selves. If we are just doing it for ourselves, then it isn’t really grace after all is it? But it does mean that if the way of the Lord is graceful then in fairness, if we to get grace – shouldn’t we be giving it as well?
Jesus told the parable of the servant who was forgiven for not being able to pay back a huge debt but then who wouldn’t forgive someone who owed him a small debt. Things did not go well for that servant. By contrast, Jesus taught that those who offered grace would receive it many times over.
We can want grace and fairness. They both are a part of the divine spark in us. But it is a dynamic process that calls us to action.
All the best and until next time,