I consider this to be the saddest passage in all of Scripture. Here was an opportunity to show grace and it was passed over.
Luke 2:7 ESV
And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
I want to first acknowledge that I am the inn keeper every day. Someone messes up an order, I make sure they know of the mistake. Someone stalls in a promise, I remind them of what they originally said. Someone hides behind the “God card,” I remind them about grace (the irony in that one is rich!) I stumble in showing grace to the older brother from the story of the prodigal. When we refuse to show grace to others, we miss out on the blessing that took place in the manger. New life broke through the world that night in the manger. The inn keeper was busy worrying about customer service. Hope invaded mankind. The inn keeper was tallying up his profit.
The passage in Isaiah 61:3 that describes God giving us beauty for ashes is a beautiful picture of what takes place in the middle of our brokenness. Jesus was born when animals had defecated. Maybe the inn keeper had let a prostitute hide for a night there. I doubt it was plush but the occupants that night would set our course for eternity.
I encourage you that the next time you are tempted to withhold grace, remember that grace is being poured out on you even in that moment. Don’t miss out on the beauty of the stable that takes place in our lives everyday. Become a person of the second chance.
Here is a great article by Mike Foster talking about the question that kills grace everyday.