You max out the credit card. Online gambling is your vice. Tiring of it, you hit Vegas and Reno. You live high. You shoot the dice. You indulge in immorality, charging it all. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Once the card is maxed, you get another one. Offers come in the mail every day.

When the new card arrives, your profligate self goes on a spending binge, purchasing an entire house of furniture, buying a whole new wardrobe, stockpiling fifty pairs of shoes, restocking your kitchen. Reckless now as you rack up debt, you get another card.

With this you take a cruise around the world. Wasteful and decadent, you buy every little trinket your heart desires. You do whatever you want. You overeat. You overspend. You splurge.

You arrive home with three maxed-out cards. Every month, you owe half your salary. Debt takes away your livelihood. But you’re not done.

The worry and inability to make ends meet destroys your health. Medical bills accrue. To drown the heartache, you take up drinking. Alcohol is expensive. You put the medical expenses and the alcohol on a new card. While you’re at it, you gain a couple hundred pounds. More destruction to your health. More medical expenses.

In short order, you find you cannot pay your bills. Then you lose your job. You are bankrupt.

free photo, crazy man eating apple

Spiritually, this is how we look. We are debtors. We cannot save ourselves.

Here I am, a debtor, corrupted by ingratitude, bitterness, and selfishness.

There God is, perfect and holy.

Here I am, a moral spendthrift, an extravagant sinner, a decadent doubter and critic.

There God is, just and righteous.

I am far, far away from him.

Why then, would he choose me? Why would he put on skin and come down here to pay the penalty for my sin? Why would he cover my excessive debt, my careless sinning, my thoughtless errors? Why would he offer me his free gift of salvation?

Because God is kind—brilliant architect of our universe, shaper of the stars, kind to the core. Even before we betrayed him, he had the plan of redemption readied, the bloody offering of himself pledged. He planned ahead. Before we even sinned, before we were even created, he gave himself, setting his face toward the task, and then turning the wheel, propelling history forward to bring it about. From before the dawn of time, this was the framework of redemption. He designed it, knowing we’d need saving.

Because God is love—friend of sinners, benevolent Philanthropist of the highest order, passionate Lover of mankind. His disposition is to look out for the interests of others, to put others ahead of himself, to be ready to help, to yearn to save, to spare nothing, to give everything, to pour himself out. This is how he loves. There is no holding back, no niggardly offering, no meager affection, no selfish sliver. We are extravagant sinners. We need an extravagant Savior.

Because God is merciful. He extends himself, not just for the forgiveness of our sins, but for the alleviation of its consequences. He knows even better than we do how poisoned we are by sin, how sin twists and corrupts our motives, our thoughts, and our actions. Rather than giving us what we deserve, he eradicates the penalty of our sin. He wipes out the debt. He clears the balance. He has pity on our misery, our broken selves, our failed attempts, our mountain of debt that can never be repaid. He pays it.

Because God is gracious. His grace spills out of him like an overflowing dam, water breeching the barricades, pouring over, flowing far and wide, sweeping away our hurt, our darkness, our weakness, our sin. He wants us in all our messy, sloppy, self-inflicted degradation. His arms are open wide. He doesn’t hold back. His grace is totally unmerited. We are sinners. We need help. His very nature compels him.

Grace is the free expression of a kind, loving, and merciful God.

And so, he did whatever was necessary. He spared no expense. He paid the price with his own blood. He awakens our dead hearts, causing us to yearn for him, convicting us of sin, teaching us the truth, giving us faith. We’re bankrupt. We can muster none of it. He does it.

Enabling us to believe, he washes us clean, regenerates us, renews us, and fills us with his own Spirit, giving us the down payment of our future hope in heaven. He causes us to grow, making us more like himself, transforming us.

He does it all. We do nothing.

We are recipients, now children in his kingdom, members of his family, adopted into his arms, basking in unearned glory.

Forgiven debtors. Records purged. Free. Eternally grateful.

Do you thank him today for his kindness, love, mercy, and grace?

Image in this post: FreeDigitalPhotos.net, smallest format