Monday of Epiphany 6 – Prayer of the Week

O Lord, graciously hear the prayers of Your people that we who justly suffer the consequences of our sin may be mercifully delivered by your goodness to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

I read an article a few weeks ago by a man who had dedicated himself to serving the homeless in my community. He had, after years of laboring, finally taken a couple of weeks off to visit some family out of state. Upon his return to work, he went to a particular spot under the Hawthorne bridge where he knew a homeless man lives. In the little hole which the homeless man had made for himself there, he found the homeless man, emaciated and near death. “What happened?” asked the large-hearted man who had been feeding him. “I was waiting for you to come back,” replied the homeless man. At this point, he realized that he was not actually helping these people, he was simply enabling them to live without bearing the consequences of what they had done and the decisions they had made. His help was in fact hindering this man from acting on his own behalf.

Being human, we struggle with the idea that we bear the consequences of decisions and actions we have taken. “It’s not fair!” we are apt to cry. But it is fair. The wage (just payment) of sin is death. Paul was not speaking some obscure truth when he said this (Rom 6:23). He was stating the obvious. What is not fair is that God loves us and sent His Son Jesus to die for us and rise again. It was not just or right that Jesus bore that curse on our behalf, but it was good of Him. And now, to the glory of His name, we have been delivered from the just consequences of our sins. God may not always prevent the temporal consequences of our sins from falling our heads, even as He has averted our eternal doom. He knows us. He has taken up our humanity to Himself. He knows that we need to take our own, faltering, Spirit-empowered steps on that path toward the life to which He has called us and which He has given us. If you find your sins lying heavily upon you today, know that Jesus has forgiven them all. Today, He extends his hand to you to lead you out of their gloom and the constriction of their consequences to life and what is good. Let Him pull you to the light.

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