Daily Office Thoughts: 07/05/17
The Change in Your Life Not Your Pocket.
“But Samuel answered the people, “Don’t be afraid. Yes, you’ve done all this evil; just don’t turn back from following the LORD. Serve the LORD with all your heart.” 1 Samuel 12:20
Samuel convicted the people for doing wrong by demanding a king to rule over them. Yet he told them that even though they had done “all this evil” God still had plans for their good, if … if they followed and served God alone.
Samuel’s understanding gives way to the idea that God’s love and protection is conditional, for it is not until later, with Israel’s second king, that an unconditional idea of covenant was given. And though we now understand grace to be God’s unmerited favor towards us, there are still certain conditions it puts upon us.
In the New Testament Paul wrote about grace in terms of what God had done, not what we had (or had not) done. Yet he said that if we claimed to follow Christ then we had to stop following the ways of sin. Obedience, for Paul, was proper response to rather than requirement for grace.
And so the first lesson today is that our salvation is a matter of what God has done through Christ, a matter of grace. Yet there is a certain condition as to whether or not we accept that grace. We have to respond and follow the way of Christ, or else would not that grace have been offered in vain?
“Peter responded, “May your money be condemned to hell along with you because you believed you could buy God’s gift with money! You can have no part or share in God’s word because your heart isn’t right with God. Therefore, change your heart and life! Turn from your wickedness! Plead with the Lord in the hope that your wicked intent can be forgiven, for I see that your bitterness has poisoned you and evil has you in chains.”” Acts of the Apostles 8:20–23
Simon from yesterday’s lesson was still learning what it meant to be a follower of Jesus’. Remember yesterday he changed from seeing his own greatness and himself as a god? Here, though, he wanted the power that the apostles’ had and which he thought he could buy. Peter strongly rebuked him, condemning him to hell if he thought he could “buy God’s gift with money”. Instead, he had to repent.
It’s as if Peter said, “It’s not about the change in your pocket but the change in your heart and life.”
Taken with what I was saying before, grace is God’s free gift, it can neither be bought or sold. It can only be accepted and acted upon by living out the change in your life.
This week I’m taking some personal time with my wife. And we’re actually getting around to using gift cards that we’ve accumulated. When you’re in the ministry, you get a lot of gift cards at Christmas and as general thank-yous. It’s a nice perk.
Grace is like these gift cards, some of which have been sitting on the desk in my study since last year. We’ve been given it through Jesus, who handed it to us when he was handed the keys to life and death. But what good is it if we never go and live out the grace we’ve been given?