The Coin: A parable

August 28, 2014

I heard this story once.


There once was a young man who struggled to know his worth. He lived in inner turmoil, racked by his guilt for things he had done and things he had left undone. He simply could not accept that he was loved and cared for given all that he felt he had been in the past.

One day, not so long ago, he was out walking, head down, heart torn. As he walked along, he wondered, perhaps even prayed, “How could anyone want someone like me? How could I ever be worth something to God, to someone else?”

In that moment, his eyes aching to cry, he spotted an old, dirty coin on the ground in front of him. It was caked with the blackness of the road and grime of fingerprints and all the gunk that finds its way to coins. Someone had dropped it. Left it. Had not wanted it.

From somewhere deep inside, he heard a voice say, “Pick that coin up off the ground.” So he bend over and picked up this coin, this discarded piece of money, not worth all that much. And then that voice bubbled up again, “Like this coin, you feel discarded and unwanted. But I in my mercy have called you. I love you, son. And if you can pick up this discarded, dirty coin, think of what I am doing for you.”

With that, this young man was made new. He knew that God had spoken into his life, giving him worth, breathing in meaning, and from that day on, he determined to live by the same mercy he had just received. To pick up any coins that had been beaten up, discarded, rejected, wounded or lost. It wouldn’t matter what they had faced or been through. It wouldn’t matter what they had struggled with or if they were having a hard time. All coins would be welcome in his life and calling. That dirty coin bouncing in his pocket pointed his life in a good direction.

Within time, he found himself a beautiful bride and began to build a business that he hoped would be successful. Soon other coins and even bills came his way. Fancy dollar bills, shiny new coins, and even some old, dirty coins like the one that had changed his life. He picked up every one of them, remembering that he would always show the same compassion that had been shown to him. Remembering that his actions showed his heart, which had been changed by the love of a God who had picked him up when he believed he was not worth such love.

But it did not take very long before that commitment to gracious living began to fade. And soon he began to only take somewhat dirty coins. He still gladly accepted fancy bills and shiny money. But slowly, very slowly, he began to reject more and more coins that came to his door.

Then one day, a very old coin knocked on his door. This coin was rough around the edges and caked with gunk. She had clearly been out and about, in many people’s pockets, lived many experiences, but at some point, had been lost. This old coin had heard of the man’s compassion and grace from other coins. She had not been convinced for the longest time, but as her fellow coins talked with her, she slowly felt she should seek this man out and see if there would be a place for her in his collection. Surely, this man would welcome her too, since his story was one of such welcoming grace.

But when this coin knocked on the man’s door, asking to try being added to his collection, the man refused. He did not want her. She wasn’t clean or fancy or new enough. And so he rejected her. Shut the door in her face and walked away. And when he walked away, the original coin in his pocket, the coin that had allowed him to hear the voice of God about his own worth, the coin that had prompted a sense of calling to show grace and compassion, slipped out of his pocket, rolled along the floor and out the door, never to be seen again.


When I heard this story, I had this one thought: There is a reason Jesus said that the merciful will be shown mercy. And that’s why this story matters to me.

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