Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How free is "free"?

coupon announcing '15 FREE DONUTS for $3.99'

The coupon above appeared in an advertising insert in the local paper last Thursday. How the typo occurred is a mystery, because a similar coupon -- but without the claim that the donuts were free -- has been printed before in the same publication. If someone had proofread the ad, the typo would have jumped out to most readers who know the accepted meaning of the word "free". As it is, the business owner has been put in a position where she must post notices of the error at the entry to her establishment.

But what is obviously an error when we see it in a commercial advertisement for goods, can become less than obvious when it comes into church life.

We had a very helpful discussion of the relationship between repentance and forgiveness last Saturday at the "Words of Praise" alternative worship service at Central Presbyterian Church. One of the participants shared her personal testimony of how God had worked in her life to bring her to a point where turning/repentance was possible.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God -- not the result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8.

It can be tempting to see our repentance as something that makes us worthy of receiving God's forgiveness, but the reality is that the gift is free and God works in our lives when we do not deserve it to enable us to receive it.

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