I attended a funeral this week of the father of one of my best friends. He lived a life marked by success on every side: financially, professionally, educationally, relationally and spiritually. He was a godly man of character and integrity who left quite a legacy of faith and faithfulness for his family. But one other thing stood out in the words of those who shared in his funeral. He was a man who understood His need for grace, was indebted to God for it, and daily lived by it.
Which reminded me of a story about a young man who asked an old rich man how he made his money. The old guy slowly and meticulously ran his fingers across his wool vest and reflected on his long life.
“Well son,” he began. “It was 1932, the depth of the Great Depression. I was down to my last nickel. I invested that nickel in an apple. I spent the entire day polishing that apple and, at the end of the day, I sold the apple for ten cents.”
“The next morning,” he continued, “I invested those ten cents in two apples. I spent the entire day polishing them and sold them at 5:00 p.m. for 20 cents. I continued this system for a month, by the end of which I’d accumulated a fortune of $3.50.”
“Then my wife’s father died and left us ten million dollars.”
There’s certainly a lot to be said for hard work and perseverance, but in this man’s case his wealth had less to do with his own character than with the generosity of his wife’s father. All he had, in the end, came because he was a beneficiary of a rich benefactor.
I am inclined on occasion to remember all the apples I’ve polished and the good things I’ve tried to do that have taken me to this place in life. But then I am also faced with the stark reality that had I not had a gracious Heavenly Father who came looking for me, and then amazingly lavished His grace upon me, I would have nothing. I have certainly benefited from God’s grace, and do so with every breath I take.
It’s a good lesson for all of us when we get on our spiritual high horse and think we brought something to the table that has somehow made us worthy of God’s love, and His work in and through our lives. But it’s not about what we did–and do–but what He did, and does. He loved us, so much that He sent His Son to die for us, and He loves us still, granting us grace every single day. Our riches never run out, because they’re not dependent on our ability to keep them, but on His abundant supply.
“Oh, to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be!” My prayer for each of you is that you know the depths of the Father’s love for you and that you bask in the beneficence of our great and gracious God and benefactor.