When people have experienced a windfall (not always in
the form of money), we may describe their experience
as a real rags-to-riches story. It usually depicts a one-hundredeighty-
degree shift in their circumstances, representing a significant
Imagine, if you will, the full impact of the literal truth of
having nothing and then gaining everything. This is an understatement
of God’s gift of forgiveness, We had nothing and were
nothing, yet God’s greatest gift was given to us while we lived
in this state of being. We brought nothing to the table; God
brought the entire meal. Paul wants us to understand the greatness
of the gift. He points out the enormity of God’s gift, even if
sin had not been our issue. How much more, then, is it a gift of
unbelievable proportions, given our low estate.
God’s love and grace are magnanimous, deep and wide, and
all-encompassing. The gift is amazing in its sacrificial nature, its
perfection, the intended recipients, and its perpetual nature. We
could not have acquired it on our own, and we have not earned
it. It is as if Paul says that when we are at our worst, God is at
God’s best! God saves the ungodly and assures the godly of their
salvation. We boast only in what God has done for us!
Who among us can fathom extending love on that basis,
much less receiving it? Yes, when we are at our most unlovable,
God loves us all the more. What God has done for the entire
world (all people for all time), God has done for you and me!
Now that’s a real nothing-to-everything story!
Lord, thank you for your all-or-nothing love. In you, we have everything. Amen.
All the readings af rm God’s benevolent care of those who place their well-being in God’s hands. While imperishable, God’s love can be frustrated by human pride and faithlessness. Water is an important symbol of God’s sustaining grace. In Exodus 17 the Israelites’ dependence on water becomes a statement about their dependence on God. The manner in which they obtain their water stands as commentary on human pride and arrogance. The psalm recounts this episode as a means of warning the people against the kind of obstinacy that impedes grace. John 4 focuses on the full actualization of God’s love in Jesus Christ through the “living water.” Paul speaks of God’s love being “poured into our hearts,” a grace that comes in the death and life of Jesus Christ.
• Read Exodus 17:1-7. When have you complained to God about a situation, only to discover God had already begun to forge a way through?
• Read Psalm 95. How does weekly worship allow you to hear God’s voice? How do you testify to God’s goodness?
• Read Romans 5:1-11. Reflect on a time when your suffering produced endurance and ultimately character.
• Read John 4:5-42. How do the words of Paul to Timothy about a worker “who correctly handles the word of truth” serve as a bridge between the “truth hurts” and the “truth will set you free”?
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