Kevin Labby is Senior pastor of Willow Creek Presbyterian Church in Winter Springs, Florida.

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Devotional - A Prince or Princess in God's Kingdom

Devotional - A Prince or Princess in God's Kingdom

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight"

- Ephesians 1:7-8

When I was a little kid, I accidentally threw a baseball through my friend’s garage window, shattering it and leaving shards of glass everywhere. I immediately started crying, terrified that his dad would be irate with me and make me or my parents pay for it. At the time my parents didn’t have a ton of extra money, and I sure as spit didn’t have any.

I’ll never forget seeing the father walk toward me. He was a very strong, tall, and somewhat reserved man. Quietly, he approached, casting what seemed like a dark shadow of looming judgment over my quivering eight-year-old body. To this day, I’m surprised that I didn’t pee my pants.

After a long pause of dreadful anticipation, his knees bent. He squatted down until he could look me straight in the eye. Directly but warmly he said, “Kevin, I want to ask you a question. Do you think that Babe Ruth ever shattered a window with a baseball?”

I paused, not sure what he intended by the question. Through sobs, I replied something like, “Maybe.”

Without pausing, he smiled, put his hand on my shoulder, and said, “I’m sure he did, buddy. We all make mistakes, even the very best of us. You’re forgiven.”

I couldn’t believe it! Forgiven? I felt such relief wash over me. I literally felt lighter, like a burden lifted from my soul!

In the resulting euphoria, I made a promise. I said, “I’ll clean it all up. I’ll make it all right. I’ll replace it and make it like new.”

His response was interesting. He said, “No, you sure won’t. This mess is too much and too dangerous for you to clean up. I’ll do it. All of it. Go play.”

Later that evening, I was getting ready to walk home. He came out of the garage to meet me. He said something like, “Kevin, aren’t you staying for dinner? We’re having spaghetti and meatballs.”

“Dinner?” I thought. My mind was churning in disbelief. “He not only forgave me for the broken window, but invites me over for dinner? I throw a baseball through his window and he gives me spaghetti and meatballs on a plate? What!? Who does that?”

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my friend’s dad reflected something of God’s love to me that day. He exhibited some of the multifaceted beauties of the gospel.

For one, he showed me the grace of forgiveness. He knew that everyone, even the very best of us, fall short and need grace to go on. Instead of holding my guilt over me, he set me free. God does the same for us.

But it didn’t stop there.

When I instinctively tried to repay him for his mercy, he wouldn’t hear of it. He knew that I couldn’t do it, and that I’d only hurt myself trying, so he graciously owned the cost of my destruction. Moreover, he bore the burden of making all things new. God does the same for us.

But it didn’t stop there.

When I was content to simply be pardoned, he wouldn’t let me go. He invited me into his house; welcomed me to his feast table; and reassured me not merely as a guest - but as another son.

When the Apostle Paul says that God lavishes the riches of his grace on his children, he intends to make it clear that we are now so much more than simply pardoned criminals through Jesus Christ. We are adopted and beloved daughters and sons of God the Father, children in whom he delights just as he delights in his eternally begotten Son, Jesus. We are co-heirs with Jesus Christ, possessing heavenly riches that will never spoil or fade.

As you go about your day, reflect on this: you are more than a pardoned criminal because of Jesus. You are beloved daughters and sons of God the Father, princesses and princes in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

A chosen people.

A royal priesthood.

A holy nation.

Child of God: that is your identity. Believe it. 

You’re loved. Don’t forget it.

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