LAW AND GRACE by HA Ironside
“We are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom_6:15)
Some years ago, I had a little school for young Indian men and women, who came to my home in Oakland, California, from the various tribes in northern Arizona. One of these was a Navajo young man of keen intelligence.
One Sunday evening, he went with me to our young people’s meeting. They were talking about the Epistle to the Galatians, and the special subject was law and grace. There were not very clear about it, and finally one turned to the Indian and said, “I wonder whether our friend has anything to say about this.”
He rose to his feet and said, “Well, my friends, I have been listening very carefully, because I am here to learn all I can on order to take it back to my people. I do not understand all that you are talking about, and I do not think you do yourselves. But concerning this law and grace business, let me see if I can make it clear. I think it is like this. When Mr. Ironside brought me from my home we took the longest railroad journey I ever took. We got out at Barstow, and there I saw the most beautiful railroad station and hotel I have ever seen. I walked all around and saw at one end a sign, ‘Do not spit here.’ I looked at that sign and then looked down at the ground and saw many had spit there, and before I know it, what I am doing? I have spit there myself. Isn’t that strange when the sign says, ‘Do not spit here’?
“I then came to Oakland to the home of the lady who invited me to dinner today and I am in the nicest home I have ever been in. Such beautiful furniture and carpets, I hate to step on it. I sank into a comfortable chair, and the lady said, ‘Now, John, you sit there while I go out and see whether the maid has dinner ready.’ I look around at the beautiful pictures, at the grand piano, and I walk all around those rooms. I am looking for a sign; the sign I am looking for is, ‘Do not spit here,’ but I look around those two beautiful drawing rooms, and cannot find a sign like this. I think, ‘What a pity when this is such a beautiful home to have people spitting all over it - too bad they don’t put up a sign!’
“So I looked all over that carpet, but cannot find that anybody have spit there. What a queer thing! Where the sign says, ‘Do not spit,’ a lot of people spit. Where there was no sign at all, in that beautiful home, nobody spit. Now I understand! That sign is law, but inside the home it is grace. They love their beautiful home, and they want to keep it clean. They do not need a sign to tell them so. I think that explains the law and grace business.”
As he sat down, a murmur of approval went round the room and the leader exclaimed, “I think that is the best illustration of law and grace I have ever heard.”