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Just the other morning I went through MacDonald’s drive through for a cup of coffee at the start of my day. As is more common now, there were 2 drive up lanes. I placed my order and started to move up. The car in the other lane finished well after me and then started to move forward too. I waved the other driver ahead, and fell into line behind them. To be honest, I was a little proud of myself at my magnanimous and truly selfless gesture of a whole 6 or 8 seconds given up to this stranger.
When I got to the window to pay, the cashier told me the car in front of you bought your coffee, enjoy your day. My well undeserved pride was instantly and justly crushed. I wanted to be the giver, not the receiver. Even if it was only a few paltry seconds. I wanted to think well of myself, not of them. Every sip of my delicious coffee was a bitter reminder of my pettiness. And a much needed reminder of the nature of saving grace. For we don’t even contribute a second’s worth toward our new life in Christ.
We’ll catch an oh so brief reminder of that for all of us today on Through the Word in 2020.
I’m Reid Ferguson. Thanks for joining us.
Luke 14:12–24; Ecclesiastes 2:18–4:16; Proverbs 12 and Philemon 8-22 comprise today’s reading block. And if you haven’t visited it in a while, the 25 verses of Paul’s letter to Philemon contain one of the most blessed expositions of saving grace to be found in the whole of the Word.
Weighing in at a whopping 335 words in the original, this tiny missive was probably the 1st century equivalent of a postcard. But it was big enough to do its job. It is a call, to a slave-owner, to take back his runaway slave who has become a Christian. And not just to take him back – but to do so without the slightest recriminations – even if he had stolen things when he ran away. More – it asks the man whose name the letter bears – to receive this errant servant back more like a family member.
So it portrays how it is God receives every sinner who believes, repents, and comes home. He does not ask us to make restitution to Him – He is content with Jesus’ satisfaction for all at Calvary. He does not receive us back as the wicked, run-away slaves we are, but as beloved sons and daughters. He does not hold us at arm’s length until we prove ourselves – He enfolds us in His loving arms and says “welcome home child.” This, is our salvation.
And it all hinges on vs. 18: “If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” For that is in essence the same letter Jesus signed in His own blood to the Father – on our behalf. This is the glory of the Cross. For all that we have wronged the Father; for how we have robbed Him of the glory due to His name – Jesus had charged to His account at Calvary – that those who believe might be received by the Father even as Jesus Himself would be. To be received as much more than bondservants, and instead as beloved brothers to Christ Himself.
This, is the glory of the Gospel.
Let that cheer your weary soul today.
God willing, we’ll be back Monday.