How to Leave a No-Strings-Attached Legacy of Redemption
So many times we expect a person to turn their life around, when really the prayer should be for the starting point: redemption. How can we leave a legacy of redemption with no strings attached?
Don’t you just love finding a good deal or getting something that feels like it was free? I earned points at a clothing store the other night to my heart’s delight, until I realized I couldn’t spend the money I’d need to shell out to redeem them.
I am just old enough to remember S&H Green Stamps. Do you remember those? My mom would collect them as bonuses from grocery stores, department stores, and gas stations. The stamps had a gummed backing that you’d lick before sticking them in an S&H booklet.
Once the booklet was filled, the special day arrived! You took them to an S&H store to redeem them for household goods. Best field trip ever.
Did you know that if you have old S&H Green Stamps lying around, you can still redeem them? They’re now called S&H Greenpoints.
If you can’t remember Green Stamps, I bet you’ve redeemed tickets at an arcade. I can hardly stand those places, with all their noisy bells and lights, but kids love them! You play carnival-like games and out spits a strand of tickets, based on your performance. After enduring dozens of games, now you get to endure the line to redeem your tickets for just about the chintziest prizes on earth, sure to last through half a playing session back at home.
You know what the redemption of S&H Green Stamps and arcade tickets is missing? It’s not really free. You had to do something–you had to make a purchase or put coins in a slot to play a game–in order to earn the redemption.
Redemption from the Lord is quite the opposite.
It takes no work on our part. We don’t have to put in time or money. It is a truly free offer.
In Psalm 103:4, the psalmist says God “redeems your life from the pit.” He “crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.”
He doesn’t say first get your act together, stop yelling at your kids or thinking bad thoughts, or spend your money wisely for a month.
Nope. It’s not there.
He simply does it for you. He redeems your life from the pit of sin and selfishness and slander. The pit of self-indulgence and self-pity. The pit of self.
His redemption comes at no cost to us, though immeasurable cost to Himself.
I have been wrestling with this principle all week. When it comes right down to it, I would like certain people to clean up their act, make different decisions, and treat me and others differently. Then, maybe then, I might extend to them the hand of redemption.
But that’s not what God did for me or for you or for that person. He paid the full price. For us. Before we did anything to deserve it.
A wonderful video of the rescue–the redemption–of Dolly the poodle has been circulating the Internet.
I don’t especially like poodles, and maybe that makes this story all the more fitting. This video will warm your heart. You can watch the first 3 minutes to get the gist of it.
Dolly had been abandoned and was living on the street. Her hair was so long and matted, they couldn’t find her paws. As the animal rescuer attempted to snag her with his catch pole, Dolly backed away. She got restless. She cowered. Eventually, the rescuer secured the collar, and Dolly was plucked to safety. Paws of Hope bathed her, fed her, and settled her into a good home.
Here’s what I’ve been wrestling with: It is true that better choices would make so many lives so much better. Wouldn’t you agree? I bet someone just came to mind when you read that. It could even have been yourself. If I would just stop doing that thing, my life would be so much better.
But that’s not necessary for redemption. Redemption comes first.
When God extends to us His redemption, which is available without our asking, do we have to do anything to get it? Honestly, I want the person to reach out and grab onto it with all they’ve got. But you know, all they have to do is not run away from it. Not cower, push it away, or bite at the catch pole.
Sometimes we just need to let Hope lift us out of the pit. Let the forgiveness wash over us.
Let redemption win.
Can I extend to others the same no-strings-attached redemption that God has given me?
Perhaps, like me, you are a work in progress on this front. May God strengthen us to be wise in this matter, not excusing sin but not taking into our hands what is God’s to handle.
Digging into God’s Word: God Redeems
As you read these verses in Psalm 103, consider the gift of God’s redemption in your life.
Psalm 103:2-4, 19 (ESV, emphasis mine)
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
God, who established the heavens and the earth, can redeem us from the pit because He is God.
The very purpose of Jesus walking as flesh for a time on this earth was so He could fulfill redemption for us. No longer would people need to burn sacrifices to God. Jesus’ offering of His perfect, sinless life paid the price for our sins for all eternity.
The week before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 ESV).
The Death of Jesus
33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:33-39 ESV)
Digging Deeper: Am I Leaving a Legacy of Redemption?
Treasure this time with the Lord. Reflect on or journal about the following questions, listening for what God has to say to you.
1. What pit would you like to ask Jesus to pull you out of? God’s ultimate redemption is from our inherent sin. But are you experiencing another kind of pit in your life at this time? The kind where you are reaching up with both hands and pleading, “God pull me out?” God hears you. He knows what is going on. Agree with Him that He will pull you out of this pit.
2. Wrestle with the concept of redemption. Yes, God has done the redeeming. He has completely accomplished redemption. All we need to do is not push it away. You probably know someone who has pushed it away, and your heart breaks for them. Take time to pray that this person would come to know the fullness of Jesus’ love.
3. Have you fully received Jesus’ redemption from sin? Talk with God about any unfinished business in this area. Let His love and forgiveness fill your heart with peace.
Redemption is only the beginning. In Luke 11:28 (ESV) Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Obedience follows redemption. So many times we expect a person to obey, to turn their life around, when really the prayer should be for the starting point: redemption.
4. Continue memorizing Psalm 103 with me. If you’ve kept up, you only need to add the 3 final verses this week. See how much you can memorize by the end of this week. Even if you mastered just the first 10 verses, you can say more of this psalm by memory than you could before!
20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
5. Let these songs bring assurance and peace to your soul today and throughout the week, as you come back to them.
Lord I’m Ready Now (Plumb)
God With Us (MercyMe)
God I Look to You (Jenn Johnson, Bethel Church)
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) (Matt Redman) Many themes in this song are taken from Psalm 103!
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In this series, we have
- meditated on Psalm 103, where we see the characteristics of God,
- discovered how Jesus illustrated those same characteristics, and
- evaluated whether the legacy we are leaving is one that flows from God.
Find all of the devotions in the series Leaving a Legacy here: Leaving a LegacyPrint