By Lisa Huddleston
“The king answered Araunah, ‘No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).
I work for two separate ministries that offer Christian life and ministry coaching to specific client groups pro bono. That means the coaches don’t get paid for work that in the secular world on average can cost anywhere from $75 to $150 for a one hour session. It’s an awesome value to receive this service for free: yet, it is common place for clients to cancel or not show up at their appointed times. While I feel privileged to serve in both of these settings, it has been growing clearer to me that many, if not most, of us take for granted the things that are given to us for free.
It’s not just in ministry work either. Those of you who are parents can testify that many of your children don’t really value the countless gifts you give them. Just look around your house and count the number of soft drink cans that have been opened, sipped once, and left to waste. Or the clothes that are purchased, worn once or twice, and then shoved into the back of a drawer only to resurface in the Goodwill pile in a few months. It can drive a mom or dad nuts! And let’s not stop there. I’m sure there are many examples you could add to my list of undervalued services and items that you encounter every day: social services, churches, public schools, music on the radio, and so on. No cost to us so little value to us as well.
I could really start to get my self-righteous back up over this attitude of ingratitude—especially when I’m the one feeling undervalued—but, as is frequently the case, God stops me in my tracks. Just when I’m really working into a lather over being stood up by a client or unappreciated by one of my children, God, my heavenly Father, says, “Yeah, Lisa, I know just how you feel.” Ouch. But I know it’s true. I tend to overlook, to undervalue, even to mistreat the gifts He gives that don’t cost me anything. For example, how often do I wake up to 24 brand new hours and take even a moment or two to thank the One who caused the sun to rise? More likely, I mutter, “My back hurts” or “I wish this day was already over.” For shame. “This is the day the Lord has made,” and I spurn His gift without a thought. But it came without a price tag. It cost me nothing, so it’s easily cast aside—shoved into the back of the drawer. Forgive me, Lord.
Yes, “forgive me.” Easy words to say and surely I can count on God to do it, but do I even value that? Forgiveness, grace, salvation—free to whoever will receive them. And sadly, also often devalued and taken for granted like the services I try to provide. I see it, Lord, a black stain of ingratitude in my own heart. I think because grace is free that it has no cost, and I continue to make choices that show my lack of appreciation for the One who gave His very life to save mine. I take one or two sips of salvation and then set it aside like one of my kids’ old soft drinks. Or I fail to show up to spend time with my Creator—yes, I dare to stand up God! Oh, Lord, I am sorry. And I am thankful for this lesson You have taught me today. Thank You for my life. Thank You for Your bountiful provision in it. And thank You, thank You, Lord, for Your grace. May I live every day from this one with an appreciation for the cost of my salvation and the value of the lives You have placed around me that I may serve. Amen.