A story is told about
Fiorello LaGuardia, who was mayor of New York City during the worst days
of the Great Depression and all of World War II. He was a
colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, take
entire orphanages to baseball games and, when the New York newspapers
were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to
One bitterly cold
night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that
served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the
evening and took over the bench himself. Within a few minutes, a tattered
old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread.
She told LaGuardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her, her
daughter was sick and her two grandchildren were starving. But the
shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges.
"It's a bad neighborhood, your Honor," the man told the mayor.
"She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a
LaGuardia sighed. He
turned to the woman and said, "I've got to punish you! The law makes
no exceptions - $10 or 10 days in jail." But even as he pronounced
sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a
bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero saying: "Here is the $10
fine which I now remit; and furthermore... I am going to fine everyone in
this courtroom 50 cents for living in a town where a person has to steal
bread so that her grandchildren can eat!
Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant."
So the following day the
New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a
bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving
grandchildren. 50 cents of that amount was contributed by the red-faced
grocery store owner, while some 70 petty criminals, people with traffic
violations and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid 50
cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.*
understood grace! The debt had
to be paid, but he paid the debt himself!
God is the Author of
grace! YOU and I
owe a debt – the debt of sin (cp. Matthew 6:12).
God is a RIGHTEOUS God who requires payment for our sins.
But God is also a LOVING God who paid the debt of our sin.
God gave His son to die on the cross as payment for our sin (1
You and I accept that
grace through our faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) – a faith that trusts
God (Hebrews 11:6), repents
of sin (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confesses
Christ (Romans 10:9-10), submits to baptism
(immersion) in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts
2:38), and follows Jesus as Lord and Savior.
debt been paid?
God bless you!
A. Sargent, Minister
Church of Christ at Creekwood
1901 Schillinger Rd. S.
Mobile, Alabama 36695
* Brennan Manning, "The Ragamuffin
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