Gambling nauseates me. Literally. If you ask my husband, he’ll tell you I can’t watch a movie with casinos or high stakes saloons without squirming or leaving the room. It’s not because I’m some temperance union biddy in high button shoes pointing her accusatory umbrella at drunken sots who waste their wages on liquor and games of the devil. (Whew, that was a mouthful of a sentence!) No, I realize that most people head for Vegas or Atlantic City with an amount in mind to spend on leisure, and they won’t deplete their bank accounts to keep trying for the jackpot.
It must be my cautious nature. The idea of probably losing money on a game where the odds are stacked against you just gets me so uptight inside I have a physical reaction. Maybe it dates back to my childhood when all the cousins played poker after Thanksgiving dinner. I always lost.
I was a bright kid but a terrible poker player. I knew the rules of what makes a good hand. I knew what I needed to make my hand better, but even when I picked up some good cards, almost always someone beat me. If I had a full house, they had four of a kind. If I had a flush, someone had a straight flush. If there’s some secret to improving your chances, my brothers and cousins never let me in on it. And I was always too timid to bluff unlike one cousin who will remain unnamed and who would force us all to fold then gloat over his pair of deuces.
All this preamble to tell you: God’s grace always holds the winning hand.
Consider the poker game of life. The sinner antes up two chips of sin. God covers it and raises the stakes with grace. The sinner can fold or throw in a few more good works chips to try to match His grace or add some sin chips upping the ante.
Now me, I folded after a few hands. I was more than content with His grace covering me. I’m happy to give over the sins and be done with them.
The stubborn sinner will keep raising the stakes. No matter how many good deeds he adds, no matter how many sins he throws into the pot, God meets him and raises with grace again. The game can go on for years and years because of Romans 5:20 – “where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.” However, as soon as a sinner folds, grace wins, and the sins are gone.
Unfortunately for the sinner, if he won’t admit God has the better hand, if she refuses to fold by Judgment Day, I guess you could say, “God calls.” He meets what the sinner flippantly tosses into the pot, and both hands are exposed to view. God wins. And the loser? The opportunity to fold to God’s grace has passed. Like the baseball hit over the neighbor’s fence in the film, The Sandlot, the obstinate sinner is lost FOR-EV-ER.