When I was a pastor at Church for All Nations in New York City...
Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
"Put God's Forgiveness to Work in Your Life!"
September 18, 2017
Then Peter came up and said to Him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times."
~ Matthew 18:21-22 (ESV)
When I was a pastor at Church for All Nations in New York City, I led a Bible study on Wall Street. There gathered every Tuesday Morning were some of the best traders and investors in the world. They would share with me their secrets of investing, and I would share with them the powerful message of the Word of God in Jesus Christ. Let's just say we both learned a lot from each other. But the secrets were not that secret at all. Oftentimes in both areas, it was incredibly straightforward talking about what is true in life, what works in life: it was simple, yet powerful, truths that really made a difference in living life for all its worth.
Their investment secret, you ready? Here it is: start early and invest regularly, and look for gains in the long term. I remember when I was young I was told to "buy term insurance" (because it's cheaper) and "invest the difference" in the costs of the premiums, in mutual funds. Why? Forty years later, at 65, you wouldn't need the insurance because you would have the money in the bank. Put your money to work so that later you can reap its blessing, its temporal freedom. Sounds simple enough, right? Then why do so few do it. With the resources we have, so many of us could manage it better for an abundance later on. That message was at the heart of many, many successful investors and fund managers in their personal lives. Words to live by, honestly.
In the lesson for the sermon yesterday, Jesus is talking about an investment strategy that is even more important than that in our lives. It goes to the heart of our spiritual -- not just our temporal -- lives. It's one that has an eternal payoff, that has an eternal perspective and scope. He's talking about receiving and sharing the forgiveness of God in a regular fashion with those God brings into our lives. Living life with that focus means we are eager to make the deposit of forgiveness in the lives of those we love. We are looking to put His love and grace to work in our lives, in our relationships, in our families. What would life be like for you this week, this month, this year, if you focused on putting that to work: receiving and sharing God's gracious forgiveness in Christ, with others? What would happen if all of us focused on that rather than hold grudges, spread vicious rumors, or look out for ourselves alone?
If you've ever had any money to invest, you know the joy of what it feels like when it grows. Some of you, just because you put your money to work in your house, in a mutual fund, or in stocks and bonds, have learned that such disciplines can make a difference in having abundance to share when the time comes. Well, Jesus is telling you that you haven't seen anything yet when it comes to what really matters. If you enjoy temporal abundance and growth, get ready for the joy of watching His eternal forgiveness and mercy do its work in your life and in the lives of those you love. If you are stingy and foolish in either area -- that way of living is empty in the end -- but even if your temporal investment strategies don't yield the abundance you had hoped for, putting God's forgiveness to work always has abundance in store in the end. Get on board with Christ's spiritual investment strategy; I know that you will be blessed as you do.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, Your forgiveness and grace is such an incredible blessing for our lives. Give us wisdom and courage to put that to work in our lives and through our lives for others in Your Name. Amen.
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