Thursday, January 16, 2014

Charity (part two)

The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent (John 6:29).

Most people don’t like to accept charity.  One reason is that we don’t value something if it’s free.  At Christmas, we are uncomfortable exchanging gifts unless we’re pretty sure everyone involved spent about the same amount of money. Most of the time when a gift comes our way, we have a rough idea of its value and appreciate what we’re given.  But when a store gives out freebies, we assume that these gifts are cheaply made and worth very little; we figure that no one will just give away something that is truly valuable.

Charity also makes us suspicious.  If we are given something truly valuable, it makes us wonder what kind of strings are attached?  Will accepting the gift put us in another person’s debt?  Sometime in the future, will they come to us looking for a favor that we might feel uncomfortable giving?  Maybe it’s safer to just avoid accepting gifts that we can’t match.

Just because something is free doesn’t mean it has little value.  Jesus’ gift of salvation is offered to us free of charge, yet it has incredible value and comes at great cost.  How valuable is it?  Without the forgiveness that is ours through Christ, we would be living dead men, sinners rejected by God for ignoring Him except when we want something and flouting His laws when they get in our way.  Without Jesus we would have no defense from Satan and his demons, who cause misery by feeding us their own twisted version of the truth and urge us to satisfy every sinful appetite regardless of the consequences.  Without the salvation offered by Christ, we would have nothing to look forward to after death except suffering in agony for all of eternity.  Jesus offers us rescue from the darkness, a gift of incredible value that our Lord paid a terrible price to obtain for us—He suffered the full wrath of God for every human sin to settle the demands of justice on our behalf.

God offers this charity with no demand or expectation of repayment or compensation.  Only one thing is required of us. Jesus said, the work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.  That’s all.  God offers us forgiveness, care, and a place in His home when we die; He expects nothing in return so long as we cling to Jesus with trust and confidence.  That loving act of charity transforms every life that embraces it.

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