Ever said something so ridiculous that you surprised yourself? I may be the only guy in history to thank a police officer for a speeding ticket. He handed it to me and I said, “Thank you.” He was as surprised as I was.
A friend was checking out at a grocery store so he put up one of those plastic dividers between his groceries and the groceries of the lady behind him. The clerk scanned his items then picked up the divider and tried to scan it repeatedly. She couldn’t find a bar code on the divider and was perplexed. “Do you know how much this is?” she asked. My friend is a fast thinker. He said, “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think I’ll buy that today.” The clerk said, “Okay.” And set it behind the cash register. In a grocery store in Germany, my daughter Rachael was trying to buy some popcorn. “Habenzi maize?” she asked. The clerks squinted at her, confused, like her oars didn’t reach the water. Desperate for popcorn, she took to making animated motions complete with sound effects “Pop pop pop. Habenzi maize?” She performed her little act for five different workers before one said, “Aw popcorn.”
We’ve all done dumb things, and we’ve believed dumb things too, haven’t we? I’ve believed some whoppers in my life, but none bigger than this one: “No one will ever know.” I listened to that voice the morning I saw five or six quarters on my brother’s dresser. I stole them and bought more candy than a family of eight could consume. Here are three things I learned.
1. Sin carries guilt. You eat four pounds of forbidden sugar in various flavors and I promise you will feel lousy in every way. You throw up. You can’t eat supper. And worst of all, you lay awake that night and a still small voice lets you know you sinned. Sin carries guilt.
2. Sin carries consequences. When your brother misses his quarters and finds two bags of half-eaten candy beneath your bed, he doesn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to know why you’ve been sick and to convince your mother that you are a thief. And when your mother opens the Bible and reads Hebrews 3:12-13 to you, paraphrasing it with your name in it, you listen. “Be careful, Philip. Make sure that your heart is not evil, tripping you up and turning you away from the living God.” Sin carries consequences.
3. Sin can be forgiven. Not just by a brother or a mother, but by God himself. Romans 5:20 tells us that the more we see our sinfulness, the more we see God’s abounding grace forgiving us. John 3:18 agrees: “He is able to save completely all who come to God through Him.”
I was so excited when my brother thanked me for paying back his quarters that I said, “Me too.”
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