February 16, 2011
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18
Dr. Keith Swanson, at the age of 78, decided he wasn't going to retire.
That was 12 years ago.
Instead of taking down his shingle, Dr. Swanson said to his wife, "I've always enjoyed helping people. I don't have any hobbies ... maybe I can work overseas for free."
Berniece, his wife, replied, "You don't need to go somewhere and do missionary work." The good doctor followed the advice of his good wife and since then has been seeing about 150 patients every week ... and not charging them anything for his advice, wisdom and expertise.
Swanson's commitment is so strong, he frequently tells folks, "If I walk down the hall and die, you'll know I'm not going to be here tomorrow."
The doctor has a pretty good grasp of the point the apostle Paul was trying to make in our text for today's devotion. He who once had been a slave to sin has become a slave of righteousness.
In my decades in the parish I have met many people like Dr. Swanson. They are the people who show up at church and do all the odd, unpaid and unappreciated jobs that need to be done. They put the bulletins together; they cut the grass, paint the classrooms, fix the plumbing, bake bread as a gift for visitors and teach children, who are not theirs, in Sunday school. They set up and take down the Christmas tree, clean up the church, make banners and sing in choirs. Truly, this list could go on for pages and even then it would hardly make a dent in the activities of those who wish to say "thank you" to the Lord Jesus for what He has done for them.
To give thanks to Jesus ... Jesus is the Person we're talking about here. It is He who came to earth to offer His life as a living sacrifice to win forgiveness and salvation for our souls. Having seen what Jesus has done, motivated believers wish to show their gratitude. We wish to show our thanks for the Christ's living, His suffering, His dark death on Calvary's cross and His glorious third-day resurrection!
Seeing all that Jesus has done for them is part of what transforms redeemed and ransomed believers from being slaves of darkness into voluntary slaves of righteousness -- slaves who offer a lifetime of thanks for the living Lord.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You fulfilled the Law, resisted temptation and defeated death for us. To do this You gave up the glories of heaven and became human. Now may all who believe in You use the gifts You have given to express their thanks and make their witness to the wonders of Your grace. This I ask in Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries