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A thief receives grace in Oklahoma

Thief stealing from handbag of a woman (Credit: oneblink1 via Fotolia)In the town of Guthrie, Oklahoma, a woman grocery shopping for her family realized her wallet was missing.  The woman, Jessica Eaves recalled, “I saw this gentleman down the aisle from me... He walked behind me, and when I got a couple of aisles over, I realized my wallet was gone."

She knew she had not dropped it.  It had been stolen—only one person had passed by her since she last remembered having it.  She headed for the front of the store where she spotted the man.  

What would I do in this situation?  What would you do? Her response has drawn national attention.

Jessica approached the man and calmly said to him, "I think you have something of mine. I'm gonna give you a choice. You can either give me my wallet, and I'll forgive you right now, and I'll even take you to the front and pay for your groceries."  The alternative would involve the authorities.  She told the Huffington Post, "As I saw him, a scripture came to me from Luke, which basically says 'If someone should take your cloak, you should give them your shirt as well.'"

The man returned her wallet and Jessica recalled that "he started crying as we walked to the front. He kept apologizing and saying that he was embarrassed."  Jessica told Christian Post that she seldom carries cash and had 28 dollars on hand. The man, a father who could not afford the groceries for his children, had just over 27 dollars worth of food.  Jessica said that she “knew in that moment it wasn't me. It was Christ that paid in that moment."  

Jessica's family has fallen under some hard financial times with 4 children under 8 years old.  "[Her] husband recently took a position for a company making half of what he was making before.  For the last two weeks the check engine light has been on in [her] car.” The same morning Jessica encountered the desperate man who took her wallet, their car did not start.  Despite all of their hardships, the Eaves family has a beautiful view of generosity.  "Regardless of how much money we have we should always be willing to help someone in need because there is always someone who is in greater need than we are," Jessica said.

Near the beginning of Victor Hugo's classic, Les Misérables, the hero of the story Jean Valjean received similar grace after escaping prison.  He had stolen silver spoons and forks from a priest who had housed him for the night.  When police caught him, not knowing he was a fugitive, they took him back to the church with the suspicion he had stolen the silver.  Not only did the priest not press charges against the criminal, he gave him the candlesticks as well.  He told Valjean,  "Do not forget, never forget, that you have promised to use this money in becoming an honest man."  The rest of the story follows Valjean’s striving to live up to the calling the priest gave him.  

I am grateful God does not treat me like a criminal.  I certainly deserve his wrath, but because of his love for you and me, he sent his son to Earth to be a sacrifice for us, so that we may be forgiven.  God's gift of grace is why we celebrate Christmas.  Jessica Eaves mirrored God's grace when she acted boldly towards the man who stole her wallet.  How will you share the grace you have received today?

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