Read: Luke 7:36-50; Romans 5:6-10
There are a variety of scenarios this year concerning the opening up of school. Some children have already started classes, and others will begin returning to school next week or after Labor Day. Many will stay at home and receive online instruction for now.
When I think about school, one thing that comes to mind is the dreaded multiple-choice test. We often called them multiple guess tests, especially when we didn't have a clue concerning which answers were correct. So, in honor of those tests, wouldn't it be fun to take a quick little one right now? Oh, turn that frown upside-down. It won't be very difficult. Ready, here it is:
If you received a Cashier's Check in the mail, what would you do with it? Choose only one answer.
1. Tear it up because I don't like the fact that someone probably thought I had a need that I was unable to meet.
2. Burn it up because I didn't do anything to earn it, and I don't like taking anything I didn't earn.
3. Place it in the drawer of the dresser and look at it every once in a while.
4. Put it in the bank and draw on it as needed.
If you chose option four, give yourself a Smiley Face. You scored 100%. We chose option four this week after receiving an unexpected Cashier's Check in the mail, and I was reminded that the Lord holds out an even sweeter gift than we received, to everyone. Just as we could choose what to do with that surprise check, each person must choose what he will do with Jesus' offer of total forgiveness, Isaiah 1:18.
First, let's remind ourselves that Jesus offer is universal because the need for forgiveness is universal, Romans 3:23. I love the way Jesus spoke of this need in Luke 7:36-50. In Luke 7:41-42, we are reminded that both people in Jesus' illustration had a debt they couldn't pay. What was the response of the one who was owed the debt? Complete forgiveness. Many people choose option one because they don't like admitting to anyone, including God, that they have a debt they can't pay. This is a tragic response to Jesus' offer because it leaves the one who made the choice still bearing His sin, and he remains under God's wrath, John 3:36b.
Second, Let's remind ourselves that the Savior's offer is given out of His loving kindness. It is a grace gift, Ephesians 2:8-9. We abandon ourselves to His love which is freely given, and we admit that we can offer nothing to deserve it, Romans 5:6-10. No wonder many people choose option two. It is so difficult to receive a gift and not try to pay back the giver. Do you remember the commercial and the tagline that said, "we did it the old fashioned way, we earned it." Although that might be a laudable thing to say in a business, the only forgiveness God recognizes is the cleansing purchased by Jesus on the cross, John 19:30. How tragic to reject the Savior's offer because someone won't admit he can do nothing to add to the Lord's finished work.
Third, Let's remind ourselves that a gift merely pondered is, in the end, a gift that was never received. Sadly, many people choose option three which is ultimately to choose nothing at all. This is very tragic because this person is not hostile to Jesus. In fact, he might even believe good things about Him. Sadly, this person enjoys Jesus "on the shelf"; however, he never appropriates what He offers into His own life. It would be similar to a hungry man who walks through the bakery, smelling the freshly baked bread and admiring its fragrance. He might even pick up the loaves, but then he walks out of the store with nothing in his hands and an empty stomach. He admires everything that he sees, but he receives no nourishment or sustenance. He leaves unchanged. Yet, when he talks with others, he speaks with positive words about all that is in the bakery, and he might even visit it on many occasions, never speaking a disparaging word about anything he encounters there.
Fourth, Let's remind ourselves of the joy of the only correct answer, option four. Oh, the joy of being forgiven, cleansed of our sins, guilt and shame, Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 8:1. This is what the Lord meant for each of us from before the creation of the world. This was the plan He revealed after Adam and Eve's sin in Genesis 3:15. This is what He came to do, John 3:16! As those who belong to Jesus, this is the truth that sustains us each day. Our sins are totally cleansed, and our guilt and shame have been nailed to the cross. Not only do we have right standing with God, 2 Corinthians 5:21, we have on-going cleansing as we walk in the light each day, 1 John 1:7.
"It is Well With my Soul" pictures option four so beautifully: “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.”
Lord, open the eyes of people, showing them the only option that You will honor is Jesus, John 14:6.