so valuable it’s free

I wanted to write about LeBron James, but was afraid too many of you would accuse me of not forgiving him.  Is forgiveness even the right category here?  I don’t know him, he’s never done anything to me personally, so I am not really holding anything more than a sports/entertainment grudge. 

Do entertainment grudges require entertainment forgiveness?  If I find a smidge of satisfaction in the boos that LeBron will hear tonight, does that mean I haven’t forgiven him?  Just to be safe, I want to say publicly that I hope everyone at the Q rises and gives LeBron a 5 minute ovation for what he means to Cleveland (and the form of that ovation should conform to what you think he means).

Here is my latest Our Daily Journey entry, inspired by something Calvin said in his 1541 Institutes and 1 Peter 1:18-19.

There are different kinds of free.  Some things are free because they are cheap, like the plastic toy in a Happy Meal.  Some things are free because they are the back end of a buy one-get one free offer.  And some things are free because they are priceless—you literally can’t put a price on them without cheapening them.

Imagine asking a woman to marry you and she responds, “Okay, but I’ll need ten thousand dollars up front and monthly payments of $795.”  Or being told by your teenage child, “Mom and dad, I’m an adult now and I want to settle up.  How much do I owe you for raising me?”  Or how would you feel if, after performing a heartfelt song for someone you love, they give you a hug and say, “That meant so much to me.  What’s a fair price for your effort?”

Wouldn’t you feel dirty in each case?  Even the suggestion that your love can be bought cheapens you and it.  Your love is the best kind of free.

Much of the heart break in our world comes from confusing cheap free with priceless free.  Spoiled children presume their wealth came easily, and they mock their parents who worked overtime to provide it.  Spouses take their partners for granted.  They grow so accustomed to their devotion that they’re not sure they want it anymore.

And what about Jesus?  John Calvin wrote that our salvation comes “at such a great price that it cannot be compensated…and therefore we could not obtain it if it were not free.  Now we say that it is free to us but not to Christ, whom it cost very dearly.”

Our salvation is free but it’s not cheap.  It’s free because it’s not cheap.  It cost Christ too much to be anything else.

8 Comments

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  1. This is excellent! Thanks Dr. Wittmer!

  2. Mike, It’s a good reminder. I can’t remember from who or from where I got this:

    Grace is:

    God’s
    Riches
    At
    Christ’s
    Expense

  3. Dr. Wittmer,

    Would it be possible to speak with you personally soon? I’m a student across the pond from the seminary…I’ve contacted your secretary but she hasn’t set anything up yet.

  4. By the way, I bought “Don’t Stop Believing” last semester and found it intriguing…that’s one of the things I wanted to ask you about.

  5. Great post Dr. Wittmer, but what does the hypothetical source dubbed “Q” have to do with an ovation for Lebron? Sorry, bad joke…

  6. Wow. Talk about cutting to soul and spirit. This was really convicting to me, about taking God’s love for granted. Thank you.

  7. Mike McCrumb: great joke, wish I had thought of it!

    Mike W: great post. This reminds me of the discussion we had about justification in the Barth seminar – that we cheapen God’s grace and the price Christ paid for our reconciliation when we talk about justification as “just as if I’d never sinned.” Perhaps we have so minimized our own depravity and sinfulness that we can no longer appreciate that we were purchased at a great price.

  8. “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”

    At times we lose sight of the “wretch” of the song, at the cheapening of grace. Of course, Mr. Newton certainly had a unique perspective of wretchedness, but I’m sure his depravity translates quite nicely to today.

    Bill N: I’m not sure he originated the acronym you referred to, but I have heard Adrian Rogers use that as well.

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