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Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 5:17, fresh start, mercy, forgiveness, self-belief, self-worth, discovering our self-worth, bakery jobs, Les Misérables, Jean Valjean, stage musicals, Victor Hugo, Bishop Myriel, Monsei’

Jo 17Recently, I heard a wonderful, true story. A young man worked for a bakery and, while taking out the rubbish one evening, discovered another young man trying to steal something from the bakery premises. He hauled him inside, explained to the owner what had happened, then headed home. When he next fronted up for work, however, he discovered his employer had offered the young offender a job in that same workplace! Instead of punishing him, this employer showed mercy on him and helped him choose a better path in life.

It seems to me this young, would-be thief was given two precious gifts that day, besides that of a paying job. The first was the gift of mercy, which one dictionary defines as ‘compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm’. And the second was the gift of trust, with the owner believing in this young man enough to offer him a job. What wonderful, life-giving, empowering gifts! The first removes that horrible burden of shame and guilt and offers a fresh start in life. And the second helps call into being that sense of self-worth and self-belief that may have been lost or missing altogether.

As I heard this story, I recalled some words from the song the elderly bishop sings to Jean Valjean in both the stage and film version of Les Misérables. Valjean repays the hospitality the bishop has shown him by stealing some valuable silverware, then tells the police the bishop gave it to him. Instead of denouncing the thief, however, the bishop picks up some silver candlesticks and sings the following:

But my friend, you left so early

Surely something slipped your mind?

You forgot I gave these also;

Would you leave the best behind?

Wow—now that is mercy par excellence, don’t you think? The bishop then urges Valjean to realise there is a purpose behind what has occurred and to use the silver ‘to become a better man’. Valjean does exactly that, ultimately changing the lives of many others.

As for the would-be thief in my first story, I wonder how his life changed as a result of the mercy and forgiveness he received. We may never know—but I have been told what a significant experience it was for the young employee who apprehended the thief. That day, he learnt a key life lesson, as he observed such kindness and forbearance in action and took it to heart.

Do you remember a time when you messed up something in your life and felt so stupid and worthless as a result? Did someone trust you enough to offer you another chance and perhaps even help you do better? Sometimes that doesn’t happen for us. Yet, with God, no one misses out. Instead, God’s amazing mercy and forgiveness is offered to each one of us through Jesus, God’s own beloved Son. And as we turn and accept that offer that shows us how much we are loved and valued, we are given a wonderful, fresh start.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

What an amazing privilege to experience this life-changing moment that makes all the difference for us, now and forever!

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