It used to be that January 1st marked the traditional start of “The January Sales”. Not any longer, when such so-called bargains appear to be snapped up way before Christmas has even started. But it got me thinking about Bargains and Value. We have somehow lost the ability to value gifts in the consumer-mad frenzy of having to give something to a huge array of people, with an “it’ll have to do” approach to the gift, the ease of Print-Your-Own vouchers, and little thought given to the actual recipient.
A few weeks ago I was listening to an outstanding sermon on Grace by Joseph Prince http://www.josephprince.org. As he preached again so eloquently about Grace, he was comparing a Gospel according to the Law versus the Gospel of Grace. He used the analogy of the Blessings and Curses pronounced from Mount Gerazim and Mount Ebal in Deuteronomy 28. So much in this sermon blessed me, and he eloquently shared that if you choose to live according to the Law, trying to keep God’s Law in your own strength, then you have to keep it all. If you slip up in just one area, you are then subject to all the curses pronounced from Mount Ebal. There are 54 verses of curses (Deuteronomy 28; 15-68), as opposed to 14 verses of blessings (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). The final curse is a show-stopper. If you slip up,
“The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you. “(Deut 28:68)
How degrading – to have become so low, that you will not only become a slave, but also that no-one can even be bothered to buy you. Bereft and valueless. Like trying to get a bargain on January 1st, when unknown to you, the Sale actually started 2 months previously. All that is left is the worst of the worst – you can’t even give it away.
How wonderful then to realise that Redemption is not something you can buy, even in a January Sale. God’s Love is so boundless and awesome, and freely given, that He came to restore us to Himself, even though we were regarded as of no value in the eyes of His Law, which we could never keep anyway. When no-one else would have us, He gave His own Son to buy us back – to redeem us- to Himself. Like the prophet Hosea and his adulteress wife Gomer (Hosea 1;2); having been reduced to a slave, Hosea still loved her, and like her, we were bought back.
Let us never under-value the cost of what God gave in order to redeem us. In 1974 Graham Kendrick, Singer-Songwriter, wrote a wonderful song, the lyrics of which have stayed with me ever since. When the tinsel is packed away, and the gift you can’t give house-room to is trashed, read this, and thank God for your Redemption…
Is a rich man worth more than a poor man?
A stranger worth less than a friend?
Is a baby worth more than an old man?
Your beginning worth more than your end?
Is a president worth more than his assassin?
Does your value decrease with your crime?
Like when Christ took the place of Barabbas
Would you say he was wasting his time?
Well, how much do you think you are worth, boy?
Will anyone stand up and say?
Would you say that a man is worth nothing
Until someone is willing to pay?
I suppose that you think you matter
Well, how much do you matter to whom?
It’s much easier at night when with friends and bright lights
Than much later alone in your room
Do you think they’ll miss one in a billion
When you finish this old human race?
Does it really make much of a difference
When your friends have forgotten your face?
If you heard that your life had been valued
That a price had been paid on the nail
Would you ask what was traded,
How much and who paid it
Who was He and what was His name?
If you heard that His name was called Jesus
Would you say that the price was too dear?
Held to the cross not by nails but by love
It was you broke His heart, not the spear!
Would you say you are worth what it cost Him?
You say ‘no’, but the price stays the same.
If it don’t make you cry, laugh it off, pass Him by,
But just remember the day when you throw it away
That He paid what He thought you were worth.
How much do you think He is worth, boy?
Will anyone stand up and say?
Tell me, what are you willing to give Him
In return for the price that He paid?
Copyright © 1974 Make Way Music,