But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” 2 Samuel 24:24 (NIV)
It was almost cliche. It was the first weekend that my sister and I, as teenagers, had been left alone in the house. My parents headed to Le Mars to spend the weekend with Grandpa Vander Well. I was fourteen. My sister was sixteen. We were given the standard parental instructions not to have anyone over, to keep the house clean while they were gone, yada, yada, yada, blah, blah, blah.
We invited a few people over. I honestly remember it only being a few people. Nevertheless, word spread that there was a party at the Vander Wells, whose parents were out of town. Somehow, the kids kept coming that night. At one point I remember hiding in the laundry room because of the chaos outside. I’m not sure when I realized that things were out of control. Perhaps it was when members of the football team began daring each other to successfully jump from the roof of our house onto the roof of the detached garage.
This, of course, was the pre-cell phone era. News took longer to travel. The parents got home on Sunday evening. The house was picked up and spotless. We thought we’d gotten away with it. I’m not sure which neighbor ratted us out, but on Monday morning Jody and I were quickly tried in a kitchen tribunal and found guilty as charged. I could have made a defense that it was Jody’s idea and the crowd was mostly older kids who Jody knew. I could have pled the defense that our older siblings, Tim and Terry, never got in trouble for the parties that they had when the rest of us were gone. Forget it. I knew it was useless.
We were grounded for a week. I didn’t argue. I didn’t complain. I didn’t whine. I was guilty and I knew it. I gladly paid the price for my sin.
I was struck by David’s response to Arauna, who offered to give David everything he needed to atone for his mistake. David understood the spiritual principle that the price has to be paid for your mistake. David had blown it and he deserved to pay the price of the sacrifice. I had blown it and knew I had to do a week in the 3107 Madison penitentiary as the price for my infraction.
I think almost all of us know when we blow it, whether we wish to admit it or not. I think almost all of us understand that we deserve to pay the price for our mistakes. What is difficult is to accept that Jesus paid the price for me. That’s what the cross was all about. When I arrive at the metaphorical threshing floor seeking to make some sacrifice to atone for what I’ve done, Jesus says “I’ve already paid the price. I’ve already made the sacrifice, once and for all. The only thing you have to do is accept it.“
For me, the spiritual economics of this cut against the grain of everything I’ve experienced and have been taught. I want to pay the price for my sin. I need to pay the price for my sin. I can’t believe that my guilty conscience can be absolved in any other way than for me to personally pay the price and feel the pain. So, I self-flagellate. I become Robert Di Nero, the repentant slave trader in The Mission (watch the movie clip below), dragging a heavy sack of armor up a rocky cliff as penance to confront the people he’d been enslaving because I simply cannot believe that forgiveness can be found by any other means than personally paying a heavy price.
How ironic that, for some, the obstacle to believing in Jesus is simply accepting and allowing Him to have paid the price for us.
Today, I’m thinking about the things I do out of guilt for what I’ve done, rather than gratitude for what Jesus did for me when He paid the price and made the sacrifice I deserved to make. And, I’m uttering a prayer of thanksgiving.
A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be editing and re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m taking a little time off to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014.
Note: The featured image on today’s post was created with Wonder A.I.
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One thought on “Paying the Price (or Not)”
When I am busted, I always want MORE punishment than is doled out. Your recovering Catholic friend, Kevin