So, as we were shopping that day we had purchased some clothes and various things at Kmart and had made our way to the checkout. As the checkout person scanned through our items, I noticed that she accidently scanned a bunch of my shirts through as just one shirt. So instead of being charged for multiple, I got charged for 1. I didn’t say anything, paid and then walked off. Please let me emphasize here – the poor student in me made me do it! I couldn’t though get past my guilt in doing this and said to my wife “I need to go and pay for these clothes!” she reluctantly let me do that. I went back, told them I had been undercharged and paid the more than $50 difference for my Kmart gears. After doing this, I felt clear of conscience for what I had just done and so would not wear these shirts to uni with any guilt whatsoever. Or so I thought.
Later that day when we got back to my house, we left the new shopping in our car overnight in the driveway – there were also some other clothes I had got from another store. Being the reckless and sometimes forgetful person I am, I didn’t lock the car. What happened? We woke up in the morning to find that some young people had entered the car, had a look around and helped themselves to the very clothes that I had I just purchased the day before. I only assume they were young people because I even left the keys to our car in the ignition but thankfully they must’ve been too young to know how to drive away with the car and goods all together! After doing the proudly noble thing the day before, all I ended up with was a messy car, no wallet and no clothes.
I bring this story up in relation to reading a verse today from 2 Corinthians 6.1. This verse is part of a reading which launches us into Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday. Paul, speaking to the church in Corinth, says these words –
“As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.”
Sometimes, we may do the right things, say the right words and live our values to the core but still feel all these things are done in vain. Maybe we’re tired of praying or speaking to God because we still continue to struggle or go through hardships. Maybe we strive to love our neighbors but struggle to feel love ourselves. Maybe, like myself in this story, we pat ourselves too hard on the back and confuse Gods goodness with our own righteousness. No matter the reason, as a follower of Christ, what’s important is this – don’t let the gift of God’s grace in your life, be given in vain. As recipients of the greatest gift known to man, we must continually live like people grateful for and transformed by it. In times like these, where lockdowns bring upon anxiety and uncertainty, we have a challenge to live up to. One where, at the start of another Lent journey toward the cross, we might be able to profess and live out a relationship with God that makes a difference and is never in vain.
So as you embark another Lenten journey this year by symbolically placing the Ashes on your forehead tomorrow – either at home or at church – let the cross that guides and reminds us of Gods everlasting, unfailing and undeserved love, not ever be a love received in vain.