Psalm 51 (excerpts) - Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy ... Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your sight ... Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. ... O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
There is a story which comes from the Middle Ages.
It speaks about an angel who wanted to give God the gift which the divine Lord valued the most. The angel traveled to earth and began his search. It took a few hundred years, but the angel eventually returned to heaven with a glass vial. In the vial was sand which had been stained red by drops of blood taken from a martyr who had died in his Savior's service.
It was a magnificent gift, a moving present, but the bloodied sand was not the gift the Lord most desired.
The angel returned to earth and, once again, began his wanderings. He stopped and was touched to see a poor widow offer up a few coins to people who had even less than she. Yes, the angel was moved by the dear lady's actions, but he knew those coins would not be the gift the Lord loved the most.
The search continued. Occasionally, the angel found something which had possibilities. He came upon a cross which had been used by a great preacher; there were the shoes of a missionary who had shared the Gospel in a heathen land, and he was delighted by the laughter of a child who was loved by Christian parents.
"These are all wonderful gifts," the angel said to himself, "but they are not the gift which God values most." Once more the angel began his search on earth.
There the angel saw two men sitting by a fountain. One of the men bent down to drink and in the water saw his sin-ravaged face. Overcome by all he had done wrong -- and who he had become -- the man wept.
The angel, ever so quietly, moved up and collected a tear of repentance.
But the angel did not return immediately to heaven. The angel listened as the second man spoke of the Savior and the hope which comes from sins forgiven. Once again, the first man cried. But this time he cried with joy at the good news of the Gospel.
He had been given faith in Jesus as his Savior. His sins were gone. He was forgiven. He had eternal life.
The angel captured one of those tears as well. The angel brought the tear of repentance and the tear of faith to heaven. Those two tears, mixed together, were presented to God, and God smiled. Tears of repentance, tears of Gospel joy. According to the story, that was the gift which God loved the most.
Tears of repentance, tears of Gospel joy. I know they are what we need the most.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I always give thanks for Jesus who is Your gift to me. May my praise be sincere and unceasing. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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