Typically when we think of receipts, we think of a piece of paper that serves as proof of purchase. We need a receipt if we are going to get reimbursed for expenses, or if we are going to try to return an item. When my wife sends me to Ikea to buy that dresser she saw online, I’d better get a receipt, because I’m totally getting the wrong dresser, and I’m totally going to need to exchange it for the right one later.
Receipts have value. There are times when it is incredibly important to be able to prove that something happened. That you legitimately bought an item. Or spent some money. In this way, they protect us from fraud, and from bad decisions. But while they can offer protection, they also prove that a bad decision was made in the first place.
We see this use of receipts, the proof of a bad decision, running rampant in this new era of social media. Receipts are no longer just proof of purchase, they have morphed into proof of what we think, and what we have done.
Josh Hader was pitching in the All-star game in 2018, and he gave up a three-run bomb in the eighth inning. Shortly afterward tweets from Hader’s past, as far back as 2011 began to surface. The tweets were racist, misogynistic, and just all around not cool by any measure, and they were thrust into the limelight. Since this information was online, the tweets actually began making their way around the stadium at the All-star game in real-time. One fan that had a Hader jersey on turned it inside out. Hader’s own family removed their jerseys and they were given generic ones without his name on the back. He was destroyed on a national stage. A night that was supposed to be a highlight of his career, he was pitching in the All-Star game for crying out loud, became an absolute nightmare. He apologized after the game of course. He told people that he tweeted those comments when he was young and stupid and that those tweets did not reflect who he is and what he stands for, or believes, now. He was 17 when he wrote some of them. He had grown, he had matured, he had changed…
But it didn’t matter. People knew what he thought. They knew who he was, and more importantly, what he was.
They had the receipts.
Character development? Change? Saying that it’s behind you? Yeah right. You’re just saying that because you want your nice polished image back. You haven’t changed. We know. We’ve got the receipts.
Repentance? People don’t actually repent; they are just mad they got caught.
Forgiveness? Forget about it.
This is you now. We know you now. We have the receipts.
If you play sports and you have a good agent, you go back and scrub, clean up, all of your old social media posts.
It must be nice. It must be a great relief to go back and to erase the dark expressions of your sinfulness so that it’s like they never happened. So that they can’t be thrown back in your face or used against you.
But not all receipts are ink on paper or pixels on a screen. The most damaging receipts are written by our hearts on the fabric of our lives. And though we try to distance ourselves from the mistakes of our past, and sprint past the failures of our present, we cannot run far enough or fast enough, for in truth, as David so poignantly recognized, our sins are “ever before us.” (Psalm 51:3)
I do not have the ability to scrub the receipts of my sin from my life. I can’t just hit ‘delete’ on a tweet or Facebook status. I can’t be good enough. I can’t run a successful enough popularity campaign to remove, or overshadow, the stain of the sinful receipts of my life.
Anyone who has met me knows that I am a broken sinner.
They have the receipts.
And yet… though I do not have the ability to scrub the receipts of sin from my life, they have been scrubbed all the same. For God sent his one and only Son, God sent Jesus, to pick up my tab, to purchase my receipts. I am not worth it. I can never deserve it.
But God knew all that. He had the receipts.
Does God keep receipts?
He doesn’t keep them. He takes them. And he puts them on Jesus’ tab.
Why? Why send his son? Why pick up such a horrible tab? Why scrub such an incriminating history, present, and future?
Because despite the receipts, the proof of who I am, God loves me. Despite my unworthiness. Despite my flaws. Despite my continual and persistent offensive acts. Despite the receipts that constantly point to the dysfunction and destruction that my heart leaves in its wake, despite all of this, God loves me. And this love is so great, this love is so powerful, this love is so potent, that it took each of my receipts and stamped upon it, in the blood of Jesus: ‘Paid in Full’.
I don’t know what receipts haunt your past. I don’t know what receipts will come up in your future. But I do know this: Through faith in Christ and by the blood of Jesus, your receipts have been paid. Because of the gracious and merciful love of God, your sin has been taken, and the debt covered. And through faith in Jesus Christ, when we stand in judgement, your sins, and the proof of them, the receipts, will not be brought against you.
You are forgiven.
The price was paid. It was paid on a bloody cross, and we have the empty grave as the receipt.
Thanks be to God.