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Broken But Valuable
by Dr. Johnny O. Trail, LMFT
C.B. Arnett was the first person in the Southeastern United States to import antiques and other items from Europe. I met Mr. Arnett when I worked for him to earn some extra money as a student at MTSU. As we interacted over a ten-year period of time, he shared some very interesting stories regarding his quest for antiques at various European destinations.

As he searched for antiques, he found some in the most unusual of places. One source he sometimes considered was the sale of unclaimed items of various airlines that served European hubs. He found some unique items such as a miniature horse drawn carriage that he maintained in his home. He also purchased a piece of Russian artwork that he bought from an abandoned items bend. At the time of purchase, the artwork had been broken into two pieces but was otherwise very pretty.

After arriving back in the states, he took the two pieces of broken art and carefully glued them back together. To look at the art, one might not think much of it. It was part of an old trunk in the shape of an arch that had a religious image painted on it. Upon appraisal at his estate sale, the Russian iconographic art appraised for ten thousand dollars. Who could have imagined that an old broken piece of artwork would be so valuable.

Just like the painting in the preceding paragraphs, many people feel broken and unworthy of God’s love. God can take things that are broken, mend them, and make them better than they were before. Invariably there are people who will respond to the preceding sentence by saying, “You have no idea about the terrible things I have done.”

As Human beings, we tend to rank the severity of various sins. Most reason that murder is the worst possible thing that a person can be guilty of in this life. Other sins tend to fall beneath this one regarding human rationales. The sentencing in human judicial systems follows this same reasoning and the punishments are tailored to suit the crime depending upon the severity of the crime committed.

Even so, God can forgive any sin that a person is willing to repent of in their life. When one considers the long list of transgressions that Paul gives regarding the former sins of the Corinthian brethren, it becomes evident that they had been guilty of every possible transgression. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” These sins typically make the top of the list of wrongs that we sometimes think of from a human standpoint.

Even so, they were able to obtain the forgiveness that is found for those in Christ. Notice the later part of the passage. I Corinthians 6:11 says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Simply stated, they repented and were baptized (Cf. Acts 2:38).

Not listed among the sins that Paul enumerates in I Corinthians 6:9-10 is the sin of murder. While it is not mentioned, we know that it is a sin for which one can receive

forgiveness. After all the same Paul who penned these words was guilty of conspiring to murder a good man named Stephen in the book of Acts. Acts 8:1a says, “Now Saul was consenting to his death [Stephen’s—JOT]…”

At the point of baptism, all of Paul’s sins—even the sin of murder—were washed away. Acts 22:16 says, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'” If God can forgive one who murdered innocent Christians, He can potentially forgive humankind of the most egregious sins through obedience to the gospel.

Obedience to the gospel saved Paul, and it saved the brethren at Corinth. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 says, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.”

The most despicable act of sin does not stop with the murder of innocent Christians. It was committed at Calvary with the murder of Jesus Christ. Several of the ten commandments were broken so that the Sanhedrin could murder the Messiah.

Even so, God was willing to forgive those who murdered His Son in the most cruel manner imaginable. Luke 23:34 says, “Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ And they divided His garments and cast lots.” While we sometimes think about those who physically lied, convicted, and nailed Jesus to the tree as being most accountable for His death, the reality of things is all our sins nailed Jesus to that tree.

Inasmuch as we have all sinned, we all have a part in murdering the Son of God. Our sins—the “big” ones and the “little” ones—nailed Jesus to the cross. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”

We are broken from our sins. This brokenness can only be fixed by Jesus’ sacrifice. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Sadly, there are some so broken that they do not know what to do to be make “whole” again from their transgressions. God offers salvation to all those humble enough to acknowledge their wrongs and seek the proper remedy for their sins (Jamess 4:6-10). You might be broken from your sin, but you have great value in the eyes of God. Consider Romans 5:5-8 which says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”