Verse 8 was so popular that two of our leaders wrote something on it, so we’re using up one of our extra days to give you what our leaders have written.
I’ve enjoyed sports – playing and watching – for as long as I can remember.
I remember when the New York Yankees swept the San Diego Padres in the World Series, when Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl, and when Emmitt Smith broke the all-time rushing record. Thanksgiving Day football is like rounding the turn to come down the final stretch of football season in December when maybe your team will make the playoffs this year.
I also remember when I was about 9 years old when my siblings and I for the first (and only) time bought a popular video game device – the Game Boy Color! We had only one game which we soon mastered. My parents gave us permission to buy the Game Boy, but they also put restrictions on it. We could play up to 20 minutes each day and also watch only one other person playing. I am so grateful for the limitations they set up because I know that many children and even teenagers (and young adults for that matter) are totally absorbed by their video games. Nevertheless, it wasn’t too long before I myself crossed the line my parents had drawn. After playing my allotted time for one day, I would tell myself, “I’ll play another 20 minutes today and then not play at all tomorrow.” But then the next day came and I played anyway, and pretty soon I was way over the line and there was no way I could stop even though I fully intended to.
Of course, my parents noticed my excessive time on video games and banned me from them. It didn’t work. So they banned me from watching football games since it was around that time of year. That didn’t work either. I could not seem to break my addiction to the Game Boy! How long would this go on?!
This is how all of us are in our sins – engulfed in them with no hope of getting out. We’ve tried, struggled, gritted our teeth, and said, “NO MORE!!!” But to no avail. Then one day, not long before Christmas, Dad called me to his room and shut the door behind me. He talked to me about my continual disobedience with video games. It hurt him to see me in another room, banned from watching football, while he and my brother were enjoying a football game as the season neared its close. Then Dad did something I will never forget. He said, “Ian, I am going to give you an early Christmas present. You are no longer banned from watching football or playing video games.” I was astounded! I WAS FREE!
What a picture of Ephesians 2:8! I had tried and tried and tried to save myself, to overcome sin and addiction, but I simply couldn’t. Finally, I was given a gift and my punishment was removed. Salvation also is a gift that we do not deserve and our sin is blotted out and our punishment (eternal separation from God) is removed.
But it doesn’t stop there. You see, from the moment I was given that early Christmas present I no longer struggled with playing video games overtime. The addiction was broken! I didn’t know it at the time but, looking back, I realize that the gift I received not only delivered me from the bondage of my debt and set the balance to zero, but the gift also removed the addicting desire and empowered me to live within the boundaries my parents set up. The gift is not just salvation, the gift is grace!
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8