Unfinished Thoughts on Margins

“That seems a fair price. We’ll take it!”

This was our first experience buying a car, and we seemed to have really been blessed with an honest salesman. He even gave us $1,000 for our old Buick that had over 140,000 miles on it. Back in the 1970’s that was a lot of miles, and our Midwest car had some rust issues too. Just as we were about to seal the deal, our sales guy gave us a horrified look.

“Oh no! I can’t sell it at that price! I won’t make any money on the deal!”

He had figured the cost margin so close that he’d eliminated his own profit. Well, considering his generosity with our old clunker, we agreed to an extra $200.

The financial world is constantly talking about margins, and I could really care less about their conversation. As long as I feel I’m paying a good price for something or getting a good deal for what I’m selling, that’s all that matters to me.

When I taught school, I encouraged my students to leave proper margins around their compositions. It made the page look professional, and besides, I needed a place to write my comments. Help out the teacher, please.

I hated to buy a used textbook that had someone else’s notes already written in the margins. I never liked their comments, and I needed room for my own notes.

The Bible I use has all sorts of notes in the margins. I’m glad I got over the need for keeping the pages clean and neat. It is a textbook, after all. The best one ever written.

In statistics class we learned that the best research had very small margins. When results had a margin of error of plus or minus 1%, you knew is was a trustworthy sample. 3% was acceptable, but nothing higher. I love looking at polls reported on the news that have a margin of four or even five per cent. By the time you add and subtract, the poll results could be meaningless or even the complete opposite!

When someone is waiting for biopsy results, we hold our breath wondering if the margins around the cancer are clear. There’s even a surgical procedure that keeps checking the margins during the surgery until every bit of cancer is removed. In this case there is no margin for error.

Bills are sometimes passed in congress with just a one-vote margin. Those who don’t want to really commit to the vote for fear of their career keep that margin close.

The lowest margin can also be the minimal degree of acceptance or qualification. Anyone who’s taken a standardized test knows what it’s like to miss that cut off.

Our God has his own cut off. Oh, there aren’t any minimal requirements that we can try to meet. No, His requirement is perfection. The world that measures everything by margins has trouble accepting this, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are all below the line. There are no special situations or contingencies.

That’s why sending His Son Jesus was essential. So we wouldn’t be marginalized by our sins, so we wouldn’t be left out.

I think of others who feel they are in the margins, written on with a red pencil that points out their failures, their shortcomings. The marginalia of the world… the so-called nonessential people. Those who have no hope of being central in anyone’s focus or importance.

But they are just as central in God’s focus as I am. “God so loved the world.” That sacrifice wasn’t just for me. I can’t take any credit for that feeling I have of being important to my Lord, and I so want everyone to feel that same special relationship.

My job is to be sure I’m not keeping my margin notes to myself. To be sure I’m willing to give up any of my own profit margins for the sake of even just one person’s soul… the soul that my Lord bought with His precious life.

Leaving my guilt at the cross,


#grace #mercy #perfection #sharingfaith

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