September 23, 2008
But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" Luke 18:13
The three Chinese men bought a 604-pound "ball of shiny something" for $2,000.
Then, they smuggled the ball of shiny something past border guards to a safe hiding place.
Surprised that the ball of shiny something sparkled and glittered when the lights were turned off, one of them chipped off a chunk of the something and kept it next to his bed. At night, when he had a hard time sleeping, he played with his chipped-off chunk of something.
Finally, curiosity and a desire to turn a profit motivated the men to put the ball of shiny something on the market. Knowing most people would be reluctant to buy a big ball of shiny something, they decided to go to Beijing to get their ball of shiny something identified and appraised.
To keep from being discovered, one of them taped a piece of the ball onto his body and made the thousand-mile trip.
Things, however, didn't go as well as planned.
After they were arrested, the men were told they were trying to sell a giant ball of depleted uranium. They were also told exposure to such a ball usually isn't a problem. The key word in that sentence is "usually."
When I read that Reuters story last week, I thought that's pretty much the way a lot of people deal with sin.
They think it's innocent stuff; they think they can play around with it, stay close to it and not suffer any ill consequences from it. Scripture says flat out they are wrong. The soul that sins will die. Big sins, little sins, all kinds of sins lead to death. In short, sin may appear to be shiny, but it is always dangerous stuff.
By God's grace, Christians can recognize the danger in sin's glitter. That is why we follow the example of the publican in Jesus' parable. Rather than playing with sin or pretending it's perfectly innocent, we say, "God be merciful to me a sinner."
Now I don't know what sins are bothersome to you. I do know that Jesus came into this world to take those sins away. His perfect life was lived to remove those sins and have them nailed to the cross with Him. Because of Jesus' sacrifice your once-glittery sins are exposed and eliminated.
Because of Jesus, your sin is gone and by faith you are saved.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I stand convicted of many sins. Because You have lived, died and risen those sins have been erased. May this day be lived in the forgiveness and joy You alone can provide. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries