An Indiana preacher, Fred Sigle, tells an incredible story that occurred in the lower east side of NYC several years ago.
Two teenagers with a long history of crime and delinquency robbed a YMCA and as they were leaving saw a young man at the telephone switchboard. They were frightened and assumed that he must be calling the police. They seized and beat him savagely with brass knuckles and a blackjack. Thinking that he was dead, they hid him behind a radiator near the swimming pool and escaped.
Later that evening, a woman who came to swim, was walking by the pool. She slipped in the man’s blood, screamed, and then found Donald Tippet’s body. He lived, but one eye was so badly damaged that it could not be saved.
Eventually, the two teenagers were apprehended and brought to trial. Their past records assured that both would get long sentences. However, Donald Tippet did an amazing thing. He requested that the judge allow the two young men to be paroled to his charge. He wanted to give them another chance. He believed they could change.
One of the boys blew his opportunity. He committed another crime, was caught, and sent to jail. The other boy, however, was responsive to Tippet’s kindness. He went to college and then, eventually, to medical school and became a surgeon. An eye surgeon.
A reporter, writing about Tippet’s amazing story of forgiveness, said of the surgeon’s accomplishments: “I wonder if he ever performs one of those delicate eye operations without thinking of that night in the YMCA and the young man whose confidence and forgiveness changed his life.”
This story is only a microcosm of the nature of God and His willingness to forgive. In one of the great passages in the Bible, the Psalm speaks to this quality.
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Ps.32:1-2).
David knew first hand about God’s forgiveness. The “man after God’s own heart sinned grievously. David wove a tangled web of lust, adultery, deception, murder, and lying. The Psalm reminds us that sin hurts. It hurts mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Sin separates us from God. Sin produces sorrow. Sin saps the strength from our spirit. Sin’s consequences are far-reaching.
But there is Good News. Our God is merciful and filled with loving kindness. In spite of David’s transgression, he experienced forgiveness. David’s attempts to cover his sins were futile. But God could cover it. And not count it against Him.
This principle is still valid today. In his great treatise in the Roman letter, Paul quotes this passage (Rom. 4:7-8). He argues that sinners today can receive justification by faith in Christ, have their sins removed from God’s ledger and enjoy the blessing of God’s grace.
It is important to remember, however, that David was forgiven when he admitted his sin and demonstrated a penitent spirit. God forgave David and did not count his sin against him when he confessed his wrongdoing.
God’s grace today is revealed through Jesus Christ. His blood cleanses us of sin, gives the opportunity to have fellowship with the Father as we walk in the light, and to enjoy forgiveness as we admit and confess our sins (I Jn. 1:5-10). Grace is not a license to sin. Rather it is a blessing to free us from sin’s stronghold and its condemning guilt.
Our privileges in Christ ought to humble us and cause us to be ever thankful for “this unspeakable gift.” Furthermore, like Donald Tippet, it should motivate us to forgive others just as God in Christ has forgiven us (Eph 4:32).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman