This week during our silence and solitude time, which we have once a month, I spent a couple hours contemplating the work of the cross.  I remembered a teaching on the difference between mercy and grace. 

GRACE = God DOES give us what we DON’T deserve.

MERCY = God DOESN’T give us what we DO deserve.

Mercy and grace are the work of the cross within an individual’s life, but I have been thinking more and more about the corporate work of the cross.  I know what it means that Jesus paid the price for my sin, but what does it mean to me that He paid for my neighbor’s sin?  If He was able to fulfill God’s justice through His sacrifice, to pay the debt I owed to God, can’t He also pay to me the debt of injury from my neighbor’s sin against me?  To forgive is to acknowledge my neighbor owes me and to release him from that debt, but then I bear the cost of his debt.  But the work of Jesus on the cross means that *I* do not have to bear that cost…Jesus can.  

Maybe a simple example with money will help.  Let’s say that Joe owes me $50.  If I forgive him that $50, I’m still short $50.  So then I bear the cost.  But if someone, say, Jesus, gives me $50, then he bears the cost.  Jesus died so that we can love one another truly, free from sin, selfishness, and self-protection.  

So many in this world have endured abuses that can never be repaid to them, the cost of which they cannot bear.  When we go continually to people to collect a debt they can never repay, we come up empty and wounded.  When we step with holy confidence out of the debt they cannot pay and turn to Jesus, we find the life they could not give.