2007-04-11 - Stealing Wood
Proverbs 26:20, "For lack of wood, the fire goes out."
I have said before, that we tend to forget our heritage as Christians, and I believe this is true. Even the heritage in the founding of America is glossed over by many, and many Christians know little of the spiritual nature of the early inhabitants of New England. They think they know all about those early pilgrims who came to America, because they have heard of the witch trials in Salem Massachusetts, but do not know that very few lost their lives in that tragic time of sinful spiritual fervor, nor that most of the dozen or so that were condemned as witches believed themselves to be witches and worthy of condemnation. How many Americans, who know all about Christopher Columbus, know that the name America comes from Americus Vesputius, a Florentine who made discovery of the southern regions of the continent? (We can all be glad America is not called "Vesputia.") We don't know our history well, because we are not diligent students of the past - and yet we look at our nation today, and despair of having lost our way - when we have no idea from where we sprung.
Sorry for the rant, but it was started as an introduction to John Winthrop, who was a leader in Colonial America - mainly political, but was also a man who probably would rather have spent his time more in spiritual pursuits than in the affairs of state, but was forced to exercise the gifts God had given him, as Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. There are many stories of his kindness and charity, but I would like to reproduce one here as an example. During a long and difficult winter, when wood was scarce, he was privately told by someone that a man living nearby was secretly stealing wood from his pile.
Winthrop replied, "Does he so? I'll take course with him; go, call that man to me; I'll warrant you I'll cure him of stealing." When the man was brought to him, Winthrop, knowing that if he was stealing, it was out of necessity rather than for his profit, said to him, "Friend, it is a severe winter, and I doubt you are meanly provided for wood; wherefore I would have you supply your self at my woodpile till this cold season be over." Winthrop then asked his friend, who had turned in the thief, "Whether he had not effectually cured this man of stealing his wood?"
Sometimes it is hard to be a giving person. It is even harder to be giving to someone who has wronged us, or done us an ill turn, but this was the example of Winthrop. He knew what was at issue here, and he not only forgave the wrong done to him, but he also established the principle with the offender - that he would help him, by meeting his needs with his own surplus. There is, of course, another whom we have wronged, who does a similar thing - but on a much more dramatic and meaningful level. Jesus Christ, who we have greatly wronged by sin, not only forgives our sin, but imputes (gives) to us His righteousness, both making up all our lack, and also making us whole again. It is amazing that while we have done God wrong in sin, He has offered us forgiveness freely received by faith in Christ's sacrifice. We not only receive pardon for stealing the wood, but we also receive His righteousness, as if we had never sinned at all - and God the Father now looks upon us not as rebellious sinners, but as having the very righteousness of Christ as our own. In a nut shell, that is the result of the mercy offered in Christ. God the Father will not be taking us out to the proverbial woodshed (Hell), because He views us as He views His own Son Jesus Christ. Christ, as our Redeemer, brings this to us - and it is received, by us, by faith.
Soli Deo Gloria,