Lent Devotions: God's free and freeing gift

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 

By Patrick Kiptum  

Isaiah 55:1-9                   

Half of our lives we are told to work hard to succeed. From home to school, we are drilled to work hard in everything that we do. The value of success is even further emphasized by the grades we get. If we fail to work hard we get an “F.” If we work hard we can get an “A.” These grades follow us through school and into college. Often, our school grades can set the course for our lives. For the “A” student the world opens up. Opportunities abound. For an “F,” student the world can shut down. Often these students are labeled a failure. Later on, as we get older, it is the same in the workplace. We climb the ladder of success because of hard work.

Yet in this passage of Isaiah, God is inviting us to receive something we have not worked for. God says, “Come you, who has nothing to offer and I will satisfy you. Come you, who are thirsty and get a drink.” God is offering to free us from performance mentality. God is offering this hope to us for free. In this passage, God is telling us that we do not have to perform to earn God’s love and life.

When God offers us water, God is offering us the Holy Spirit and eternal life for free. For in Isaiah 44:3 and John 4:14, God in offering water is offering the living water that leads to everlasting life. God is inviting us to freedom “from the law of sin and death,” toward the “law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus” as Paul states it in Romans 8:2.

God is offering all of this free of charge. The only requirement is that we accept it for free. We do not have to work for it. I am not against working hard. It is important to strive for our best. We need only remember that we do not need to bring our work to God to receive God’s gift of grace. From God’s point of view, we have nothing to offer our creator: All things come from God. Therefore we only need to accept what God is offering to us. We do not need to do anything to earn God’s peace and grace. In God’s offerings to us, we have the freedom to simply receive.

Patrick Kiptum is pursuing a Master of Divinity at San Francisco Theological Seminary. 

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