August 27, 2014
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28
Sadie Hill is a single mother who lives in Fargo, North Dakota.
Life is not easy for Hill and her seven-year-old daughter, Adalee. To put food on the table Hill works two jobs. That's why, when the mother and daughter found a wallet containing $1,000, it might have seemed like Christmas. In the hands of a mother who can pinch pennies, $1,000 can go a long way. Hill talked the situation over with her daughter and said, "There really is only one right thing to do: return the wallet with the cash intact."
And that's just what they did. For their honesty, the owner gave them $20.
That's right, a whole $20. Then the wallet's owner began to realize, "Twenty dollars isn't much thanks for what this mother has done for me." Sadly, the man hadn't taken down Sadie or Adalee's name. It was only when the local TV station got involved that they reconnected and he showed his appreciation with a larger -- a much larger -- reward.
Now I'd like to see the hands of all those folks who thought the original $20 reward was pretty meager.
Yeah, that's what I thought too. Then, feeling pretty smug, I asked myself, "Well, Ken just what would you have given as a thank-you gift to this lady and her daughter? $100? $300? $500? All in all I found myself being pretty generous when my thanks was totally hypothetical.
So, let me ask, in a real situation, how much would you give to show your gratitude?
Say, for example, you had done something so vile you were sentenced to die? And then, the judge who had pronounced your sentence added, "No question about it, you do deserve to die. But I think I will send my son to take your place. He will live the life you should have lived. He will pay the price for your wrongdoings, and he will die the death you deserved."
I wonder how would you express your thanks for such an incredible and unselfish act? Would you give the judge some leftover change? Is it possible you might even turn your back on him and act as if nothing of significance had happened?
Such ingratitude would be unimaginable!
Even so, that is what many people, even some who call themselves, "Christians," do. They act as if God owed them salvation and that the coming of Jesus was completely natural.
Jesus' sacrifice may be unearned and undeserved, but it should never be unappreciated. How did Luther say a grateful heart should respond to all the Lord has done? If memory serves rightly, it sounded something like, "For all of which it is my duty to thank and praise to serve and obey Him."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, truly I am sorry that, all too often, I take Jesus' life, death and resurrection for granted. May my heart be filled with appreciation for the forgiveness and salvation that is a gift from You to me. This I ask in the Name of my Savior. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries