Imagine yourself in this story.
You didn’t see your neighbor’s two year old when you backed the car out the driveway. You rushed the child to the hospital but he didn’t make it. What do you do? Perhaps you would sell your house and move. You don’t think you can bear to face your neighbor day in and day out. You don’t think they can face you either. So you move.
Now, fast forward several years. You become deathly ill. You discover you are about to die from a terrible previously undiagnosed disease There is no known cure and death will occur soon. It is predicted to be one of the most painful deaths anyone can imagine.
Your old neighbor, the one whose son you killed, heard about your illness. Instead of consoling himself about you, he becomes concerned. He is so concerned for you that he sets out to find a cure for your illness.
This former neighbor of yours is a medical researcher dealing in the treatment of deadly diseases. His work to save your life takes him past the normal funding required for research. He begins to sell his possessions to fund the work. He empties all his bank accounts and retirement accounts. He spends endless hours, up early and working late into the night, sometimes over night.
Finally he develops a cure, but knowing the progression of your disease, there can be no second chances if it doesn’t work. So, he decides to give himself an advanced form of the disease to see if the cure will work before giving you the serum. The disease immediately makes him ill. He then takes the cure and it works, but not without a cost to his own health. This cure is very valuable because no one else in the world has it. Your neighbor includes you in the royalty rights, perhaps because he would not have discovered it if you were not sick, but maybe he also does not want you to forget how important this cure is by the benefits that come from it.
By this time, you are near the point of death. Your neighbor arrives and administers the cure and you are saved.
What thoughts pass through your mind as your recover? Your mind may be filled with many questions, but the greatest question you have for your former neighbor is, “Why, why after I killed your son, did you do all this to save me?” You know you did more harm than any enemy could have done to him, yet this neighbor gave up wealth, time, and health to save your life.
He gave you your life back. He gave you your life back better. He destroyed the thing that was killing you. He crossed over the barrier of a broken relationship at great personal cost. He has shared the riches of his work with you. How would you feel about this man? How could you express gratitude? What would you owe him? Could it ever be repaid? How long do you believe you should live out this debt of gratitude?
What if you thanked him for what he did and then asked, “What do I woe you?” What if whenever people ask you about your amazing recovery, you just tell them you got lucky? “It wasn’t as bad as it looked,” you might say, “I just kept thinking positive.” You give no recognition or only a passing acknowledgement of what your neighbor did for you. Yet, in your heart you know that the only reason you are alive, healthy, wealthy and free is because the person who had the most reason to reject you, loved you. He demonstrated that love in an unforgettable way.
Wouldn’t you agree that you owe this former neighbor a debt of love, gratitude and never-ending praise? You could never repay him for what he has done. What should be the proper response? Should it be a loving appreciation to him, a desire to now live a responsible life honoring him, and joining him in compassionate concern to rid the world from this disease?
If this is true concerning the saving of your life in this present world, what would be true about saving it for eternity? What this neighbor did is certainly commendable, yet it pales in comparison to what Jesus Christ has done for you in purchasing salvation.
The Bible says you were helpless in your sin. You were doomed to a life “…without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12b, NIV). Whether you sinned on purpose or not, you are guilty. As the neighbor, you didn’t intent to run over the child, but it still happened. You may or may not have intended to sin, but you are still guilty. Not only did you sin against that child, but you sinned against his parent. It is the same with God. Some of your sins may be against other people, but all of your sin is against a holy and righteous God. You begin to appreciate your condition when you realize that the “…wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a, NIV). You have essentially spit in the face of God by our words, deeds and attitudes. Yet God has not treated you as you deserve. He has done something in an infinitely greater measure than your neighbor could ever do for you. The Bible states it this way, “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” (Romans 5:7-8, NIV). It goes on to read, “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10, NIV). God makes you right with him and he is the one paying the price.
What should be your response to such love? Should your response not be similar to the man who saved your life? Would you agree there should be even more appreciation to God for saving you for eternity? It should be loving appreciation to him, living a responsible life honoring him, and joining him in compassionate concern to save the world is the proper response.
Your life needs a new orientation. You need to understand that you do not live for yourself any longer. The Bible says, “He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15, NIV). Has this been your response? Would you like to make it yours?