Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” — Ephesians 2:8-9
I have friends who send me “forwards”. Some I read, some I don’t. And since some of these forwarded emails turn out to be based on rumor, I was suspicious when I received a “forward” entitled “Desk Jockeyed.” My friend had written me that this was an email (making the internet circuit) which was a good story about soldiers, so I opened it and read it. I was impressed with the story, but was it true? My next task was to check it out. Yes—true, very true, Snopes.com reported. Apparently this text was taken from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s address to a March, 2007, conference in Washington, D.C.:
“In September of 2005, a social studies schoolteacher from Arkansas (Martha Cothren) did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom. The kids came into first period, they walked in; there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, ‘Where’s our desks?’
The teacher said, ‘You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn them.’
They thought, ‘Well, maybe it’s our grades.’
‘No,’ she said.
‘Maybe it’s our behavior.’
And she told them, ‘No, it’s not even your behavior.’
And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing. Third period. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in the class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom. The last period of the day, the instructor gathered her class.
They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room. She said, ‘Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily. Now I’m going to tell you.’
She went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. By the time they had finished placing the desks, those kids for the first time I think perhaps in their lives understood how they earned those desks.
Their teacher said, ‘You don’t have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it’s up to you to sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don’t ever forget it.’”
Just as our service members, like you and your families, pay for our freedom—as so beautifully illustrated in this classroom story—Jesus paid the price for our eternal freedom. Our freedom as Christians is in our freedom from the penalty of sin and in the gift of eternal life in heaven, by our repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Just as the students couldn’t earn their freedom to study, we cannot earn our salvation by good works. The act of Jesus’ death on the cross was payment for our sin, and because of His sacrifice we are “justified” before God.
Take some time to ponder these verses, considering the price that was paid for our freedom in Christ:
“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. . . . You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!” (Romans 5:1-2,6-9)
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17)
If I had been in Martha Cothren’s military history class that day in 2005, I would have wanted to thank those veterans for their service to our country which afforded me a place to safely learn. It was not something I deserved or earned—they paid the price for me, both in terms of that freedom and all others. On this Veterans’ Day week of 2010, we say “Thank you, Veterans.”
Jesus paid the price for my entrance into heaven—it is not something I deserved or earned. In August of 1980 I did what Romans 10:9-10 so clearly states, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” And like Paul wrote earlier in Romans 5:1, I have had peace ever since. Thank you, Jesus.
Mrs. Cothren closed her class that day with a challenge to her students not to take the soldiers’ sacrifice for granted. . . and to live responsibly and with gratitude. In Colossians we see a similar challenge from the apostle Paul, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
Questions to share:
1. Can you think of a gift that you received that you did not deserve or earn? What was it?
2. If you have never accepted the free gift of salvation which Jesus offers you today, would you consider praying a prayer like this:
“Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I receive you as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.”
Hallelujah! It would now be helpful to find another Christian with whom to share your decision. Then begin to grow in your faith by studying the Bible (His Word) and seek to join a fellowship of Christ-followers who will disciple you in your journey of faith.