Three things cheating on a test taught me about grace

Kirsten McGehee

In my last semester of college, I cheated on an exam.

I handed in my test and as the paper fell into my professor’s hand, I felt an immediate pang of guilt. I had cheated and I justified it, saying I would get the grade I deserved either way and left the campus.

After several hours of conversations with the Lord and some wise friends, I knew I needed to confess. I hated the guilt that was eating at me. So, in a cowardly email, I typed out an apology to my professor the very next day. I clicked “send” and watched my degree fly away with the rest of my integrity and waited for the email confirming my expulsion.

“See me after class on Thursday,” was his response. My heart dropped.

Shame piled on me and I sat anxiously waiting for the end of the lecture. I walked up to him after class, looking at the floor. He smiled at me and showed me my exam, it was covered in red. He didn’t lecture me. He simply gave my test back to me and asked me to answer the questions again. After I answered the questions, I handed the test back to the professor. He smiled upon reading my answers and congratulated me on passing the test, class and graduating.

I should have been expelled, but because of grace I graduated and understood more about God’s character. The reality is we all do bad things, whether it’s cheating on a test or cheating on a spouse. We’re slaves to sin, since the beginning, but there’s hope. In Jesus, because of grace, we have freedom from guilt and we have a chance to live abundantly.

3 Things Cheating on a Test Taught Me About Grace

1. God’s grace doesn’t have to make sense.

In Romans 3:10-11, the Bible says we’re not good people and we’re not looking for God. Yet Romans 5:8 explains that even in our sin, God loved us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us and clear our names. It doesn’t make sense why a perfect God would show imperfect people who aren’t even seeking Him grace, but He does. It’s not our duty or right to try to understand why a good God gave us grace. It’s simply up to us to accept it and share it with others.

2. God’s grace is bigger than my debt.

Not only are we given grace freely, we really can’t out-sin the grace of God. In Ephesians 1, Paul tells us God lavishes His grace on us. That means all sin is covered, the ledger is wiped clean. You and I can walk in freedom because God’s love is that great. I don’t have to live in shame because of my past. I can walk in freedom today because of what Jesus did on the cross 2,000 years ago.

3. Grace changes hearts.

I will never cheat on a test again. Not because I’m scared of getting caught or because I’m afraid of what people will think of me. I won’t cheat again because I was shown so much grace, I don’t ever want to. I want to live a better life, an honest life because I was shown the price of grace and the weight of my sin.

Cheaters never win, but in Jesus, cheaters have grace. Grace turns our actions — good and bad — into hope and hope changes the world. That’s the power of grace.

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