TAKING GRACE FOR GRANTED

by David Sisler

Mary was examining her mother's nursing home bill. She didn't understand a $275 charge for transportation, particularly since her mother had not left the home. "Oh, that's for bringing a portable X-ray machine from the hospital to the nursing home." When Medicare refused to pay the full charge, the bill was adjusted downward $250.36.

There were other questionable items on the bill all billed to Medicare but Mary particularly singled out one more: a $73 charge for "mycotic nails." It seems the nursing home brought in a podiatrist to cut the 91-year-old patient's toe nails. The charge was $38 for the right foot and $35 for the left foot. Mary's mother was scheduled for a similar service every other month total charges for toe nail cutting $390 per year.

When Mary questioned the service, the director of the nursing home replied, "Don't worry. Medicare will pay it."

Mary replied, "Who do you think pays for Medicare? Santa Claus?"

The director responded, "If you don't have to pay it, why worry?" The director of the nursing home was taking a lot for granted. But then it is a common malady.

The man sat down at a booth in a popular local restaurant. He ordered white toast, no butter. The waitress brought him wheat toast, heavily buttered. Then he ordered eggs, scrambled soft. They were almost burnt. Finally he asked for hot tea, but only half strength. When the waitress brought the tea it was so strong, the spoon almost stood upright in the cup.

"Are you alright?" he asked the waitress.

She looked at him in silence for a long moment. Then quietly, and with tears streaming down her face she said, "I go into the hospital in less than a week. They say I have leukemia. I've always assumed my good health. I've always believed I would see my daughter graduate from high school. Now I'm no longer certain. I've taken so many things for granted."

You'd like to get inside of David's head. He was King of Israel. God's man. A man after God's own heart. A man who knew God did not look lightly on adultery or murder. And yet David became guilty of both. What was he thinking? Did he believe as God's man he was exempt from the consequences or the penalties of his actions? Did he think he had an immunity or an exemption?

One night David was standing on the roof of his palace. He was just standing there, looking out over Jerusalem. Then he saw Bathsheba. Her beauty was breathtaking. And she was naked. David sent word for her to come to him and he embarked on a course of action that would change the rest of his life.

God sent word to David, "I know what you did. The child Bathsheba is carrying, will die. I will forgive you, but the consequences of your disobedience will continue to follow you and your nation." David had taken grace for granted.

Paul told the Philippian Christians, "When the Lord has begun a good thing in you, he will see it through to perfection, to completion" (Philippians 1:6).

So many people read that and think, "Hey, that's great. I've started out for God. He has promised to do the rest. In the meantime I can turn loose and do what pleases me. If I mess up, it's no big deal, because God will forgive me."

Such an attitude completely dismisses Hebrews 10:26. "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins."

The writer was not suggesting that God will refuse to forgive a Christian if he sins. He was saying, "You can't build up forgiveness in advance. You can't make a deposit against future sins and then live like hell just because you know God will forgive you."

Don't take God's grace for granted. You know he will forgive you if you ask him. Just because he will, is not a reason to sin. The consequences you risk are too great.

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Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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