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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Sweet and Elite”

In this episode, Rarity really manages to “dodge a bullet”. You have to admit, she gets away with quite a lot. She ended up getting so wrapped up in making an impression on the Canterlot elite that she took advantage of her friendship/connection to Twilight Sparkle, not only to help name-drop herself to get in with the upper class, but later neglecting both Twilight’s birthday present as well as attending her birthday herself to try and buy more time to spend at high society events. She even ends up trying to split time between a party with her friends and a party with the upper class, and in the end she manages to get away with almost all of it without backlash thanks to how forgiving her friends are.

A bit stunning, to be sure…but in all honesty I don’t think I’ve gone my life without using little white lies here and there, knowing who I tell them to will be good-natured enough to allow me the fringe benefits. I’m rather ashamed of how many times it happened to my parents. I would visit home for the weekend from time to time while in college…sometimes knowing I could get a free use of the washer and dryer while I was there. Likewise if I didn’t like what I was having for dinner I could tell a bit of a fib about how I was thinking of skipping dinner that night due to lack of money and I’d get it paid for me. (I, uh, try to treat my parents to dinner now. ^_^;)

Sticking with family, we were probably more likely to want to spend holidays or special occasions with the grandparents who gave out more “treats” or had more “fun things” to do around their houses. We were probably more likely to want to visit relatives who live in more “fun” cities and states, especially knowing we won’t have to pay for a hotel when we get there. Or maybe play with the friends who had the “cooler toys” or “newer games”.

For those who work retail, food service, or any other occupation with rotating managers, I think we learn real fast who the “easier” managers are that we can afford to slack off around more, and it’s probably not long before we give in to that temptation at least once. We probably know who are the right people to talk to about getting a sick day approved or getting someone to cover for our shift, too. And it’s likely if we need/want assistance on something, we’re going to go to the individual who is always offering and/or never complains about it.

Then, of course…there’s God. The Bible clearly says that salvation is a gift from God and cannot be “earned”. (Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”) Therefore, it’s true that doing good works or acts of charity and the like doesn’t earn salvation. This attests to the greatness and graciousness of God…but it also can occasionally make us forgetful or neglectful. After being saved, over time, we may start thinking Church is too much of a bother when we have the Bible right at home, or the devotional life is something we don’t have time for anymore and doesn’t really provide anything, or that our community or Church is doing fine without our donations, or that someone else will minister or share Christ with that person who is better suited to it, or help that person out, or seize that opportunity, etc., etc. It doesn’t take too long where about the only thing we do that really attests to us being a Christian is once in a while we rejoice in our salvation, and then move on with the same lives everyone else leads, including nonbelievers.

It’s true that salvation is not earned, just as it’s true that the free laundry and money for dinner and treats and friend benefits were not earned. They were gifts from family and friends, freely given out of a desire to see me happy. But if I just take these things without giving anything back, do I really appreciate the one who gave them to me in the first place? Or stopped to think about what it cost them to give to me which they so freely offered? Am I simply taking advantage of them and enjoying “fringe benefits”?

In Romans 12:1, Paul exhorts: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” A sacrifice is giving up something freely that “costs” something with the desire of offering praise or adoration to something greater; which in the sense Paul was talking about was God. The central idea here is that the word is “sacrifice”, not “gift”, implying some transfer of value. We can’t give anything to God that will benefit him directly. We don’t possess anything of worth that’s personally valuable to God. Rather, what God considers “holy and acceptable” is what is valuable to us. Things we offer to him or to others in his Name that cost us something.

And while there were indeed “sin offerings” and “guilt offerings” that were sacrifices in the time Paul wrote his letter, a big kind of sacrifice was the “holocaust” or wholly-burnt offering. These ones were just for praising and thanking God. They weren’t to obtain any special blessing or gift or help in some difficulty; they were just sacrifices you made whenever you wanted to say: “God, thank you! How marvelous and glorious you are!” So in the sense of Romans 12:1, Paul is likely not telling Christians to be “living sacrifices” in the hopes of getting salvation from God, but rather that this is how you praise God. That how you demonstrate your praise and thanks to God is shown in your actions and personal sacrifices.

God showed his love for mankind by sending his only Son to die in our place for our sins; in effect providing the ultimate, perfect sacrifice. The level of “gratitude” and “appreciation” we feel for this is reflected by our actions and sacrifices back to God.

My prayer for today is that I do not take advantage of this gift, but rather live in a way that shows how valuable it is to me.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for sending Lord Jesus to die in my place for all of my sins, so that I might live with you in Heaven forever. And thank you for all of the people you have put in my life who gave to me freely out of no other desire than to see me happy. I am eternally grateful and I desire to show you my gratitude through my words, thoughts, and actions toward others. And where I may have taken advantage of the kindness of others or exploited it, help me to make amends. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

And…

If you are not a Christian and wish to accept God’s forgiveness for all your sins and receive his invitation for a full pardon, click the link below. It’s to a site by ACTS International, who I’ve read the “Daily Encounter” of for years. It kind of inspired me to do this. I think they’re better at “this part” than I am. 😛

ACTS Web Invitation

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