Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Deposit before Withdrawl

It was a miscommunication. I wrote a check for the house mortgage payment. So did my husband, Steve. We both dutifully mailed them off, assuming the other had forgotten. A few days later, checks started to bounce. Realizing our mistake, we immediately called the mortgage company to get back our desperately needed funds. They assured us that the mortgage had been paid for the coming month as well. No, they could not refund our payment. Bottom line: we were overdrawn with no funds coming in until the end of the month.

So we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on our trip north rather than stop for fast food. My meal plans became centered on what we already had in the pantry. Wherever we could save a dime, we did. Our meager savings got us through the crisis, and by the end of the month, we were on stable ground once more.

You can't withdraw money you haven't put into an account. This is a lesson most of us learned in our first year of college or work, usually the hard way, when receiving notification that several checks had bounced. Worse yet, a hefty fee is applied for each check written on insufficient funds. Hard knocks lesson #1: You have to deposit before you can withdraw.

Jesus illustrated this point at a banquet held in his honor by Simon the Pharisee. A woman had come, uninvited, to express her love for Jesus. She knelt by him, her tears falling onto his dusty feet. Wiping the tears with her hair, she poured perfumed oil onto his feet. Each one of her actions was an expression of her devotion and gratitude to Jesus. Simon was not impressed. "If this man were truly a prophet, he would know just what kind of woman is touching him," he thought.

In the next moment, Jesus proved he was no ordinary man by responding out loud to Simon's silent thoughts. He told a story of two debtors who owed large sums of money. The first owed 50 denarii, which is equivalent to approximately a year's wages. The second owed 500 denarii, a debt unimaginable to a first century Jewish peasant. In an act of mercy, the money lender, seeing that they were unable to repay his loan, decided to forgive both men for their debts. They were free and clear. Jesus posed a question to Simon: "Now which one of them will love him more?"

What was Jesus getting at? The woman was a sinner, fallen from acceptable society, rejected and scorned by her own townspeople. Yet she had been given the gift of forgiveness. Now her cup overflowed. She had much love to give because she had been given much love. The bigger the bank account, the greater the possibility for withdrawal.

Zaccheus, chief tax collector, famous for his climb up a sycamore tree in order to see the Lord, was another notorious sinner. He too received acceptance and love from Christ. His immediate response to what he had received: start giving. He presented half of all he owned to the poor. By way of recompense, he promised to give back four times the amount he had defrauded each individual. What prompted him to be suddenly so generous with his resources? His account was filled to overflowing. Because he was unconditionally loved and forgiven, he could give without restraint.

Being generous with our love should be a prominent characteristic that marks us as children of God. Yet loving others is not always easy. In fact, some people are nearly impossible to love! How can God expect us to love the un-lovely? The answer is that He has already provided the resource we need to accomplish this. He loved us first. "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us," John wrote in his first epistle. "We love, because He first loved us."

We have already received a limitless quantity of love and mercy from God. He could not love us more. He gave everything most precious to Him to redeem and save us from eternal suffering and condemnation. All this he did while we were his enemies. Now, filled with the knowledge of how completely we are loved, we are capable of allowing some of that limitless supply to overflow from our lives into the lives of others. It is like filling buckets from an ocean. There is so much more than enough to go around.

Our bank account is filled to capacity. There is more than enough to give away. We can write those "checks" without fear of overdrawing.

This was the November 11 article of my devotional newsletter, The Dogwood Digest. To subscribe to this free weekly email, click on the appropriate link located on the right hand column of this blog. Thanks!

1 comment:

Grammy Ona said...

I really enjoyed your check and deposit
analogy. Thanks, I had two checks bounce last month, which was a similar situation.
It's always something. Thankfully God is already where ever He takes us.. Praise God. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving.