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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Hopelessly in debt!

During my years as a teacher of Religious and Moral Education, I had to teach about belief-systems other than the Christian Faith.  One of those was Islam - and I think that I can claim to know a wee bit more about that religion than does the average westerner!

One of the teachings of Islam has to do with a final judgment.  It is claimed that each Muslim has an angel on each shoulder (the Kiraman Katibin).  The angel on the right shoulder keeps a record of every good thing that the person does; the other angel keeps a record of every bad thing that the person does.  At the judgment, the records are added up and, if there are more good things than bad, the person goes to paradise; if it is the other way around, the person goes to hell.

This is not, of course, the kind of teaching in the Christian Faith.  However, some people determine to try something similar.  One man, intent on recording his experiences with God, decided to keep a daily "balance sheet"!  On one side, he listed all that he did for God; on the other side, all that the Lord did for him.  If some small need was met by His gracious hand, it was noted.  All favours and mercies were thus recorded.  However, after just a few weeks of this book-keeping, he gave up."It's no use", he said, I can never get ahead.  I am always hopelessly in debt"!

If we are ever tempted to add up the instances of God's goodness in our lives, we must not forget that the heavenly Father can cause even adversity to be an asset. Someone has said: "I willingly bear witness to the fact that I owe more to the fire, the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord's workshop.  I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod. My trials have often brought me my richest blessings."

It would be an interesting exercise to take time, for just one day, to note the benefits of God's favour upon us.  Actually, it would be an impossible task - but it would be profitable in sharpening our spiritual perception!  I suspect that we would quickly find that we are the recipients of abundant treasures - some clearly defined; some well disguised! Even if we were to spend every remaining second of our earthly lives in dedicated service to Him, we would never be able to show our full gratitude for his wonderful provision.  Considering all that He has done for, and given to, us we can only acknowledge that we are hopelessly in debt to Him.

We can never earn our eternal salvation; it cannot be bought.  It is a gift of grace from the One Who loves us so much that, in the Persona (not a typo!) of the Son, He gave Himself to pay the penalty for your sin, and for mine.  As the Graham Kendrick song reminds, and encourages, us: "The price is paid!  Come let us enter in to all that Jesus died to make our own.  For every sin, more than enough He gave; and bought our freedom from each guilty stain".

Have you accepted that salvation - freely offered, yet purchased at such great cost? It is there, available to you right now.  Do something about it - for the sake of your eternal destiny, and that glory may be given to His Name.                                                                

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