God’s Grace, UPS Style
You might remember that I moved out to the operation at UPS a little over a month ago, right after Grace was born. Well, last night I had a situation pop up which required me to act like a full-fledged boss-man.
I have an employee who had been disciplined for attendance problems prior to my arrival in the area. This employee had an occurrence this past Monday, in violation of the terms of discipline. My supervisor said that I could either suspend or terminate the employee based on the employee’s past history. Since the grunts at UPS are union employees, I would need to confer with the union steward before taking any action, and my sup told me he would stand behind whatever decision I made.
Well, this is the employee’s first occurrence under me (I have no history with the employee), so I decided to be gracious and overlook this one occurrence, preferring instead to give a “verbal” warning. The next occurrence would result in a suspension and further occurrences would result in termination. The steward said it was more than fair. The employee accepted this discipline and my supervisor also accepted the terms I laid out for them.
Later, while driving home, I reflected on what I had done. It was the first major disciplinary action I have had to take as an operations supervisor. I was praying for the employee when it hit me: what I did that night is exactly what God does to us.
You see, God has passed over our past sins, as per Romans 3:25. Why did God do that? The Romans passage says it was to show that God is both just and the justifier. Why “just?” Because God must judge the unrighteous. That’s right — we ought to have been judged immediately upon committing our very first sin. Even further, we ought to have been judged at birth, since the Bible teaches we are born sinners, condemned to hell for eternity. But God, who is sovereign, has elected not to do that; insted he passes over these sins. Why?
Romans continues by saying he does this that he might be “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Did you get that? God passes over sins in order to save sinners. Could God ever show his mercy if he immediately judged sinners? No! To show his mercy in Christ, he must willingly overlook sins committed in view of a coming day of salvation. He has given us a “written” warning in the form of his Word, and “verbal” warnings through the words of Gospel preachers.
Interestingly, this makes God’s wrath much more just and holy and glorious. How? Because no one can say God did not offer mercy. “You can’t send me to hell! You never gave me a chance!” “Yes I did! I sent my only Son to take away the sins of the world! I commanded you, through my written Word and the words of my preachers, to believe in him! You, dead in your sins, would not! Depart from me, you cursed one, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!”
You see, I had offered mercy to my employee by overlooking the occurrence, and shown the way of “salvation” in a sense and the consequences of failure, “commanding” this employee to comply. I had shown myself to be “just” in my judgment of the employee, and shown that I could be this employee’s “justifier” through obedience to my wish for them.
I was chilled to the bone, and not a little choked up, when I realized what God had shown me last night. Chilled, because it hit me just how merciful God has been to me, of all people, in saving me. God didn’t have to save me. He didn’t have to overlook my sins. He didn’t have to give life to my dead heart that I might obey his command to believe in Christ. By all rights, I should be destined for eternal judgment.
Choked up, because he showed me how much he has made me like him, and how much like him I have failed to be. When have I been merciful, as he is merciful? When have I judged as he judges? When have I justified others, as he has justified us? Last night I got a taste of what it is to judge, justify, and show mercy as he does. Oh, that he might give me more ability to be like him in this!
On top of that, when I got home, the verse of the day in the sidebar was for Proverbs 19:11. Look it up and prepare to be awed at God’s providence.
I’m convinced this job is going to make me a better believer, husband, father, and pastor just on the basis of events like this. And right on the heels of reading The Mystery of Providence. Praise the Lord, O my soul!