A couple days ago the former Commissioners of Lackawanna County, Mr. Munchak and Mr. Cordaro, were sentenced for their numerous crimes of corruption. In the end they got 7 and 11 years of prison. As to how much time they will actually spend in prison only time will tell, but even if they serve their full sentences, it will always be debated whether their punishments were appropriate. The defense accuses the judge of making an example of them – and that the sentences are unfair. But the fact remains that the sentences are substantially below the guidelines for their crimes. And yes, it could be said that as they are (were) the leaders of our community they should most definitely be made to keep their vows to be good examples for the rest of us.
What caught my interest in the sentencing proceedings were the “good works” of both Munchak and Cordaro that were continually brought forward as good reasons to be lenient toward them. Everything from being a great dad to donating blood, the reasons to be nice to the convicted were all laid out in great detail in 130 letters from family and friends.
This kind of thinking is so very convincing to us. None of us are perfect, we know, but we just kind of assume that if we do enough good things in our lives we will some how make up for all our imperfections. The reality is that we as humans really do live so much of our lives by this “rule.” Without this “rule” we would find it almost impossible to survive any kind of human relationship.
But it is important to understand that in God’s economy there is no room for this foolishness. A thousand virtuous acts in the eyes of God cannot make up for even one lousy sin. I remember the example my seminary professor made with the illustration of someone making an omelette. After cracking a few eggs into a bowl the cook realizes that one of the eggs is spoiled and rotten. He can’t just add another dozen good eggs to make up for that one rotten one. He has to throw the whole batch out.
It is a fearful enough experience for once-powerful people to stand before an earthly judge and plead for leniency. At least we can have our “good deeds” to comfort us in our prison cell. But how terrible it will be to stand before the judgment seat of Almighty God stripped of any notion of that comfort! But say it isn’t so! Unfortunately, for too many people that will be the reality. It will be a terrifying experience. But that is not God’s desire. His desire is all would be His children and we would be judged righteous by the blood of Christ. Praise The Lord that He has given us a most beautiful advocate, a SAVIOR, whose name is Jesus, the very same one who has already taken upon himself the punishment of our sin. His cross and righteousness have obliterated our iniquity forever. By His wounds we are healed!
Yes, there is hope for Mr. Munchak and Mr. Cordaro in the courts of the Final Judgement – even as there is hope for you and I. Our Lord loves to forgive. We have a SURE hope through faith in the righteousness of Christ!
1 John 2:1
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.