Life behind prison walls provides many opportunities for me to trust God and extend His love and grace to others on a daily basis. Such was the case when someone stole my battery-operated razor and a bag of coffee from my cell while I was at breakfast. It didn’t take much detective work to identify the thief.

Usually when things like this happen, I turn them over to God. He is always faithful to turn these situations around for my good. But this time, a part of me wanted to give that thief what he deserved. I wanted him to know he wasn’t getting something for nothing. He was going to pay for stealing from me.

I confronted the man and told him I wanted my razor back, but he denied taking it. I looked at him hard. I knew he was lying, and I was angry. And he knew it, too.

In the midst of our stare down, I came to my senses. And I did the smartest thing I knew to do—I turned and walked away. I realized I had a choice. I could do things my way, or I could do them God’s way. God’s way is a way of grace, love, and mercy.

Grace. Love. Mercy. Talk about getting something for nothing!

God’s grace, His love, and His mercy didn’t cost me a thing. But they cost God everything! They cost Him the very life of His Son.

None of us deserve God’s grace, love, or mercy. I sure don’t. I deserve just the opposite. I deserve death. But God gave them to me just the same. That’s His way. He gives us His something for our nothing. There is nothing we can do to earn it. It is a free gift. We just have to receive it (Ephesians 2:8).

Later that day I went back to the thief and told him, “I forgive you.”

“I didn’t take your coffee,” he said.

I hadn’t told him any coffee was stolen. His denial was actually an admission of his wrongdoing.

I smiled and said, “I forgive you.”

With those three words, I gave to Him what God had given me—something for nothing. God’s grace. It felt so good. Peace beyond my understanding entered my spirit and every bit of anger left.

Of course, I still wanted my razor and coffee back, but I knew God would replace everything I had lost. After all, everything I have belongs to Him anyway. I had to trust that He was at work…He always is. There is always something much more valuable at stake than what I see. I just knew God was using the razor and bag of coffee for a greater purpose.

The following Sunday, I was at the chapel when I noticed this man. He was listening to the message and then, when the invitation to know Christ was given, he came forward and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

Git—that’s the man’s name—told me later in the dorm that my response came as a total surprise to him. When I said those three words, “I forgive you,” he’d immediately felt shame and regret for what he had done. He then told me that something had drawn him to the chapel that Sunday morning like a magnet. When the message was shared, he knew God was knocking on the door of his heart, asking Git to let Him in. He received God’s grace.

“My life has been such a mess,” he said. “I need Jesus to take over my life, forgive me of my sin, and change me.” A tear ran down his cheek, streaming over the tattooed teardrop permanently displayed on his face. I gave him a brotherly hug, and to my amazement, actually found myself thanking God for letting him steal my razor and coffee.

Something for nothing—it’s God’s way, God’s grace, and it’s the best way.

Written by Roy A. Borges