I’ve just been thinking about how we all seem to be hardwired to reciprocate — if one person does a good deed for us, we want to do a good deed for them. It seems like a reflex we cannot suppress — even the bad guys in stories can’t suppress it! I think of Harry Potter and Peter Pettigrew.

In book 3, Harry spares Peter’s life:

“Pettigrew owes his life to you. You have sent Voldemort a deputy who is in your debt… When one wizard saves another wizard’s life, it creates a certain bond between them… and I’m much mistaken if Voldemort wants his servant in the debt of Harry Potter… This is magic at its deepest, its most impenetrable, Harry.”

In book 7, Peter/Wormtail attempts to kill Harry:

‘You’re going to kill me?’ Harry choked, attempting to prise off the metal fingers.

‘After I saved your life? You owe me, Wormtail!’

The silver fingers slackened. Harry had not expected it: he wrenched himself free, astonished, keeping his hand over Wormtail’s mouth. He saw the rat-like man’s small, watery eyes widen with fear and surprise: he seemed just as shocked as Harry at what his hand had done, at the tiny, merciful impulse it had betrayed, and he continued to struggle more powerfully, as though to undo that moment of weakness.

Grace begets grace. Peter’s intentions were overwhelmed by a deeper impulse.

It seems like we’re built to respond to grace, like Someone created us to be responsive to Him and His nature. The extent to which we’re able to reciprocate that grace demonstrates the extent to which we’ve experienced it directly. I think it’s hard to extend grace when we’ve not felt God’s grace in our own lives, even if we know of it intellectually.

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