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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 2:1–10

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (NRSV)

Early in our marriage, my wife and I rarely discussed spending limits for the gifts we would give to each other for Christmas and our birthdays. That’s not to suggest we were buying large gifts for each other every year—in fact, it was quite the opposite. A book one year, a DVD another—in general, our gifts were simple, yet heartfelt.

That all changed, however, when my wife decided to do a little extra one year—buying several gifts for me instead of the usual one. When it came time to exchange presents on Christmas, I had a sinking feeling as I saw the multiple gifts in her hands. Things were decidedly not even—my gift in no way compared to the kindness and generosity that she had shown me—and I felt embarrassed for what I had to share. (Before you feel bad for me, know that I did the exact same thing to her the next year.)

Growing up in a culture that values reciprocity and “earning” everything that we get, passages like Ephesians 2 can be hard for us to wrap our minds around. We struggle with the idea that we cannot earn our salvation through our actions. We are uncomfortable and embarrassed with the idea that God would give us so great a gift when we have so little to offer back in return. But, trusting in God’s mercy and love, may this Lenten season remind us once more that God truly offers this gift freely to each one of us.

Holy God, there are no words or actions that can fully express my gratitude for all that you have given me. I only pray that you empower me through your Spirit once more that my walk be ever closer to you. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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