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An Apology, A D-Minus, and God’s Forgiveness

By Tracy Jessup

Gardner Webb


“Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed, O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come.  When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.  Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts.  We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.”  — Psalm 65:1-3


A few years ago, I read a news story in The Washington Post about a college student who received an apology letter from his ex-girlfriend.  Nick Lutz said the four-page note, handwritten on lined white notebook paper, appeared under the windshield wiper of his truck in the winter of 2017.  It came from an ex-girlfriend whom he had blocked by phone and on social media.  According to the article, “she wanted to say she was sorry, and she took some liberties with spelling and grammar in the process.”

Lutz, who was still feeling betrayed by the breakup, marked up the letter.  “Like a teacher grading a paper, he took a bright red pen and savaged it, correcting mistakes and leaving comments in the voice of a perturbed copy editor.”  He also gave her a grade, a D-minus, and wrote that he would accept “revision for half credit.”

Then he posted a picture of it to Twitter and captioned the tweet, “When your ex writes you an apology letter so you grade it to send it back.”  It went viral, shared 121,000 times and liked 337,000 times, “and spurred a swarm of journalists from across the globe to write about his ‘savage’ words.

The University of Central Florida, where Lutz was a rising senior, suspended him over the viral tweet because, the school said, “it violated the student code of conduct for being ‘disruptive’ and ‘harmful’ (Katie Mettler, “A student graded his ex’s apology note – D-minus – then tweeted it. He got suspended.” 7/19/17).  Lutz appealed the decision and eventually, the charges were dropped.

In today’s passage, the Psalmist praises God for answering prayer and offering forgiveness.  He understands the experience we all share in that our sins overwhelm us and separate us from God.  We know what it is to experience life and we know ourselves to be sinners.  And if God were a God who kept a record of our wrongdoings or graded us according to our performance, none of us would stand a chance.  Even the temple, which was to be a meeting place between God and his people, was a continual reminder that the people met God there on the basis, not of their merit, but of his grace.  Everyone, including the high priest, was a sinner in need of forgiveness, and “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).  Ultimately, God brings us near through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, who when lifted up (John 12:32-33), draws us near to live in God’s presence.


Prayer:  Lord, we all arrive at your doorstep sooner or later, loaded with guilt.  Our sins are too much for us.  Thank you for getting rid of them once and for all (adapted from The Message, Psalm 65:3).


Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna. You can read more good news from Dr. Jessup HERE.