There once was a knave named Norbert. Like most knaves, he was a scoundrel, a rapscallion, and an all-around good-for-nothing. Unlike most knaves (or so Norbert thought), he got caught.
Norbert’s fate was anything but humorous. He was chained and locked in a dungeon to spend the rest of his days in darkness and despair. The only light in his dank, dusty cell came through an opening underneath the door. Through this same opening, each evening, slid a plate of rice mixed with sand. A second plate contained water, which Norbert had to lap like a dog. The plates were Norbert’s only contact with the outside world. Other than the occasional rat scurrying across the floor, all was silent.
For a time, Norbert dreamed of sunlight, of color, of conversation, of joy. As the years passed, the dreams faded and eventually Norbert dreamt of nothing at all.
Then, one day, the door opened.
Even the dim light from the stairwell seemed blinding, but Norbert could just discern the outline of a man approaching. A guard? No. His eyes slowly adjusted. This must be the lord of the castle himself. But he didn’t look anything like Norbert remembered. His son, perhaps? It had been a great many years.
The man reached behind him, and a second figure placed a key in his hand. The man bent and unlocked Norbert’s chains. He reached out and lifted Norbert’s bearded chin. He looked Norbert in the eye.
“Norbert. I am King Edward.”
“By my own order and my own hand, you have been released and granted full pardon.”
Norbert wished for stronger legs to leap for joy. Instead, he fell at the king’s feet and wept. The king lifted him and carried him up the stairs.
He took him outside where a fine carriage waited. Norbert’s carriage.
The carriage took him to a small castle. Norbert’s castle.
A servant opened the door. Norbert’s servant.
More servants prepared a feast. Norbert’s feast.
The king had seen that Norbert’s every need would be met. His wishes were granted, his crimes were forgiven, his reputation was restored. He was free in every respect.
Norbert knew he didn’t deserve forgiveness.
So he went back to the dungeon where he wallowed in misery and died.
Not the ending you were expecting, perhaps? Yeah, me neither.
So why would we write this ending for ourselves? Why would we go back to a life based on our works when we’ve been freed from works?
Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? ...It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 3:1-3; 5:1, NIV)
Are you beating yourself up because you’re not a “good enough Christian”? Do you see yourself as a failure because you just keep sinning? Or do you take pride in how good you look to others? Are you glad you're a "better Christian" than (almost) everybody else?
Well, guess what? You weren’t saved because of your righteousness. Your righteousness is because you were saved.
Stop living in misery. Get up and dance. You’re not in the dungeon anymore.
Are you excited about your freedom? Leave a comment below.
Know someone who would be encouraged by this today? Please share!
Sign up to have my free weekly devotions
delivered to your inbox.