The Gift is not like the Trespass – Rom 5, Ps 32

Ash Wednesday Resources

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The gift is not like the trespass (Rom 5:12-19)

You will need:

  • A set of balance scales with a pan on one side
  • A set of cardboard ‘coins’ [Click here for PDF]
  • A large feather
  • A very heavy (2 or 5lb / 1 or 2kg) weight

What to do:

Print out the circles [Click here for PDF] You will need at least 3 sheets.

Either as part of the activity, or beforehand, write ‘bad things’ in the circles, eg greed, gossip, shouting at your sister, being mean. In one circle write ‘Jesus’.

Stick the Jesus circle on to the weight and all the others onto card, then cut them out to make carboard coins.


We know that we all do wrong things, [look at some of the coins and talk about them]

Hopefully none of us here have done all of these, but all of us have done some. All of us.

People throughout history have thought about what that means for us, both in this life and in the next, and they’ve come up with different ideas.

Fig. 1. The weighing of the heart depicted in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, overseen by the jackal-headed Anubis, the god of embalming. Courtesy of the British Museum, via Wikimedia CommonsThe ancient Egyptians, for example, believed that when you died, your heart would be weighed on scales like these. Anubis would put a feather on one side [put feather on one side and a couple of coins in the pan], and all your deeds would go on the other. If your heart was as light as a feather, you could go to the afterlife. But if your heart was heavier [add more coins] you would be eaten by Ammut, the crocodile-headed goddess.

It doesn’t take many coins to balance out a feather. I’m rather glad I’m not an ancient Egyptian. [remove feather]

Many of us have an idea that God works like this, too. We might try to do a good deed, to try to balance out a bad one. [place coin on each side] and hope that we end up with more good than bad.  But it doesn’t work like that. It’s not “If I do 100 bad things in my life and 101 good things, then God will like me and let me into heaven.” It just doesn’t work like that. For starters, God likes you anyway, even if you do 100 bad things and never do anything good. God still likes you, cos he’s nice like that.

So, if it doesn’t work by balancing out my bad deeds with good deeds and trying to be good enough, how does it work?

Kinda like the Anubis and the feather thing, except that there’s not even a feather on the other side. There’s nothing. The standard is perfection. [Drop in one coin] And no one ever meets that standard.

But Good News! Our Bible passage today tell us that “the gift is not like the trespass”. In other words, [add coins to pan as you talk] God’s grace, God’s love, God’s free gift, doesn’t work in the same way as our wrong-doing. The gift is not like the trespass. It’s not that we have to do good things to try to balance out the bad. It doesn’t work like that, and we could never do enough anyway. But God so loved the world – so loved me, so loved you – that he gave Jesus [bring out large weight and show label] so that anyone who believes in him should not die but have eternal life [drop weight on other side].

The gift is not like the trespass.

Liturgy Resources for Lent 1

Psalm 32

Confession and Absolution

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Day and night your hand was heavy upon me.
I confess my sins to you, O Lord.

My strength was dried up and I wilted like a plant in summer.
I confess my sins to you, O Lord.

Then I acknowledged my sin before you, and did not hide my iniquity.
I confess my sins to you, O Lord.

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

May the God of all mercy forgive and restore us,
And remake his image in us.

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Blessing and Dismissal

May God be a hiding place for you;
May God preserve you from trouble;
May God surround you with glad cries of deliverance.

And the blessing of God Almighty – Father, Son and Holy Spirit –
Be with you as you leave
and remain upon you forever more.

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