Do you ever wish you could have a do-over?
As a teenager, I used to play golf frequently at Tenison Golf Course in Dallas. One of the first times I ever played, I hit a terrible drive off the tee. Someone said, “Take a mulligan.” I learned that “mulligan” was just another word for “do-over.”
There is nothing like a do-over. Grace through Jesus is the ultimate do-over.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
A do-over is what so many of us want.
The parents who are broken hearted over the lifestyle of their teenage son or daughter.
The father whose son witnessed his unholy lifestyle and now, years later, the son is imitating the father.
The business person who in a moment of panic chose to be dishonest on his taxes.
The young man who wishes he had never looked at his first pornographic website.
For many years I have been listening to stories. One man sat in my office and stared at the floor. He looked awful. I suspect he had not slept all night.
“I need to tell you something.”
“I’ve really messed up.”
Another man looked through the county jail bars and said:
“I never thought this would happen to me.”
These were stories of men and women whose sins haunted them in some way. Did I take their sins seriously? Absolutely. I take my own failings seriously. Grace doesn’t mean that God has lowered his standards and that it really doesn’t matter how you live anymore. Rather, grace presents the possibility of a do-over or a new start. There is no sin that is too great for God’s willingness or capacity to forgive.
Yet, grace is what we receive in Jesus. The grace of God found in Jesus allows us to be forgiven, washed, and cleansed of our dark past. I love the image of baptism as a “washing” (Acts 22:16). Grace means there is the chance for a fresh start.
Grace does not mean that my sin is no longer serious. Grace is not a license that allows me to live on the edge of God’s will while I indulge my flesh with its desires. Grace is not an updated version of faith which allows me to do what I want.
Rather, the grace of God means that my failure, my mistakes, and my sins do not have to ultimately defeat me. Grace allows for the opportunity to get a do-over and start again.
The grace of God reminds us that we are not at the end of the rope. Once again our lives can give God pleasure.