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My request wasn’t new. As he’s gotten older, I often instruct my son to hold the door for strangers as we are out and about. He dutifully props the door open until the last person has passed.
This time was different. One of the shoppers was an elderly woman accompanied by her adult daughter. As they got closer to the door, I heard her exclaim, “Look at this nice young man holding the door for us!”
She fumbled through the items in her hand, rustling through receipts and coins until she located a $1 bill which she handed to my son with words of gratitude.
I was surprised at this woman’s act of kindness, but understood her desire to reward my son for his “good behavior.” It never occurred to me that my son wouldn’t understand her gift.
“Mom, why did that lady give me a dollar?” he asked as he caught up to the rest of the family. He was bewildered that she would pay him for such a simple task. I explained that she was thankful for his help and wanted to show her appreciation before she left the store.
The interaction was soon forgotten and the money was spent on a box of Nerds to share with his brother and sister on the way home.
That was last week and I have yet to stop thinking about it.
The argument could be made that my son was deserving of the woman’s gift. He did something nice for her, so she did something nice in return. Many of our daily interactions follow a similar pattern. In fact, we keep a mental tally of the good and bad in order to balance it out with our responses.
Since she made a meal for me when I was sick, I need to make one for her when her baby arrives.
I can’t ask her to watch my kids because I might not be able to babysit hers in return.
She was totally stuck-up when I saw her at church yesterday, so I just won’t try to talk to her anymore.
We live our lives by the “tit for tat” rule.
Kindness for kindness.
Rudeness for rudeness.
Good for good.
Bad for bad.
When we as followers of Jesus act this way we are forgetting that this cycle is in complete contrast to the gift we were offered 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem and later at the cross of Calvary.
Romans 5:8 stops me in my tracks every time I read it –
….but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I was not “holding the door politely” when Christ sacrificed his innocent life for me. I was His enemy. I hated good and desired evil.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
Kindness for hatred.
Sacrifice for selfishness.
Good for bad.
I write through tears this afternoon as I sit overwhelmed at His merciful gift to me, an unworthy sinner. Although, I am often tempted to try, any repayment for this salvation is impossible. My good works are simply a small token of gratitude to the God of the universe who stooped down to rescue me.
He “held the door” for me AND gave me the reward He earned. This, my friends, is incredibly good news and as we finish out the Advent season, I pray that our hearts would understand once again the richness of the gospel of Jesus. His coming offers a peace, hope, and wonder that will last well beyond Christmas.
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15
Note to the reader:
My “wish” and prayer for you this season is that you will be overcome with the beauty of the eternal One who became man for you. May the realization of His eternal love and His eternal power over the circumstances of this broken world, bring you a peace that passes human understanding.
I will be taking the next few weeks to reflect on my Savior and rest with my sweet little family! I’ll “see” you in 2017!
Until then Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!