Romans 6:23b – The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
The young person sat before me and said, "I stole watermelons only once."
I don't recall even nodding before the rest of the story came out:
- A group of us young people went in a car to large fields known for their watermelon patches.
It was a darkish evening mid-October. As we drove with the headlights off, along a tree row, some of us kept getting out of the car to investigate. We discovered some dew-wet watermelons shining in the pale moonlight on the other side of the almost-leafless trees. We grabbed up some and scrambled back into the car. They seemed small and poor down at our feet. The patch had obviously been harvested. Slowly we drove to the end of the tree row.
Suddenly, out stepped some persons of the collective farm, barely visible in their typical dark clothing! Fearing hitting them, we switched on the car lights. In their arms, they held out beautiful, big watermelons for us to take. We humbly accepted them.
I never stole watermelons again.
The young person who had stolen watermelons was saved from stealing again by the free gift of beautiful watermelons — grace given by those sinned against, to the ones who had sinned — just as God offers grace to those who sin against Him — and that's us all.
We read at Romans 2:4b that "God's kindness leads you toward repentance". Yes, His surprising kindness, His undeserved goodness, His grace. Not punishment, but free grace leads us to repentance and acceptance of His gift.
We read and know that "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). And Jesus said, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28).
Jesus, with the gift of His own life, purchased the ticket for our security, our entry into heaven, and our stay for eternity.
We hear over and again that we can do nothing to earn or pay for our salvation; our Lord has done everything necessary for time and eternity. True, very true. So, what is our motive for doing good in the meantime?
When God's graciousness has reoriented our perspectives, "appreciation" becomes a gigantic word. We do good in appreciation for what God has done for us through His grace in Jesus Christ. With our whole selves, our whole lives, we want to share God's goodness, His free gift.
Prayer: Dear God, please direct our lives so that we will live in appreciation of Your gifts. Freely we have received. Guide us by Your Holy Spirit to freely pass on Your great, free, undeserved goodness. Thank You for the vast extent of Your gift: "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish." Amen.