The other day our lead pastor Barret Jordan used an illustration of an ethical dilemma he confronted while at Home Depot. He needed a very cheap part to fix his dishwasher, but that part only came in a superfluous pack with many different parts. As as an employee helped Barret think through his options, he came up with the idea to simply open the large pack with a knife and remove the smaller part. Merry Christmas.
Since Barret reasoned (and I think rightly so) that the employee didn’t have the authority to do such a thing, he simply waited for him to disappear and proceeded to buy the now otherwise unsellable superfluous dishwasher pack.
Some folks may have questioned whether or not taking this small piece really would have constituted stealing. And I really don’t want to get into that so much per se. Instead I want to consider the “cost” of this whole matter.
The point I want to consider is that someone has to pay for the dishwasher pack. If it is ripped and missing a part, then it no longer constitutes a full set comprising all of the needed parts. To take one part out of it, and leave it back on the shelf, does not then go back in time and erase that dishwasher pack from existence. It is now unsellable and so someone IS paying for it.
Either Barret pays for it, that employee pays for it, or Home Depot pays for it. Since it would have never sold, Home Depot would have paid for it. Now I’m no Home Depot apologist, particularly after the lack of help I received when I bought the wrong thermostat (costly mistake indeed!) and had to buy another one three months later. But any store that is hiring 80,000 will hopefully make a small dent into the economy.
Regardless, the point is that someone has to pay for that action. That’s why, unless the employee had authority to do this, it was right for Barret to buy the whole pack instead of walking out with the “free” part.
This the same answer we essentially give when someone asks, “Can’t God just ignore sin, and not make that big of a deal about it?” Well you could you go in a number of different ways, but consider this Home Depot illustration as a starting point. Someone has to pay for sin. The perfect world that was created has been broken by man’s sin. God, the Holy, Infinite, Wise, Wonderful, Loving Creator has been deemed replaceable. We can’t go back in time and erase that truth anymore than we can go back in time and erase that dishwasher pack from existence. Fellowship, shalom, harmony, holiness, has been broken. Someone has to pay for it. That’s just all there is to it. The question is who will it be?
Much of the world is like the unauthorized employee: “Just don’t worry about sin. It’s not a big deal, and no one will think it’s a big deal. Do whatever is most convenient and comfortable.”
But either man could pay for it, or God could pay for it. Either man does pay for it by God’s wrath remaining on him now and forever in Hell, or God has paid for it on behalf of those who will believe and rest upon His Son. Wrath either falls on man or it falls on Jesus at the cross. Those are the only options. Someone pays for sin.
Unlike the unauthorized employee, the hired hand, Jesus lays down his life for his sheep (those who believe in Him). When someone accused Jesus of playing the part of the unauthorized employee, we see this dialog in Mark 2:7-12
7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Someone pays. Only one can actually afford to pay, so let us repent and rest upon his effort and not our own.