[Aug 26]—Wrapping Paper

            I remember when I was in the youth group in my church, and we had a really funny older guy named Warren. He always had a one-liner appropriate for every situation, most of the time leaving us in stitches. One time I recall in particular was when we were all at a birthday party (or some other type of party that entailed gift-giving), and as someone was unwrapping their gift, he called out “Be careful with that wrapping paper, it’s rented.” As a 15 year old, I thought it was hilarious.
            I think of that every time I read this verse. Can you imagine saying that for real? Suppose I bought a really expensive gift (like a $1000 watch) for a friend, and as he was unwrapping it, I seriously told him “Hey, be careful with that wrapping paper, it’s rented.”
            That’s a good illustration of what Paul is asking here. Of course this is a rhetorical question, and like the rest of this chapter, he has 10 pounds of deep meaning packed into a one-pound bag. Let’s examine it a little closer.
            The Father, out of love for us, sent his Son down to earth. The Son took on human flesh, was raised in a poor family, in a backwater nation, under the boot-heel of a foreign power. He constantly had to deal with all the frailties endemic to the human condition: Tiredness, hunger, thirst, frustration, etc. He also dealt with lots of things most of us never deal with, like wholesale abandonment by his friends in his hour of need. He was subjected to a show trial, beaten and tortured, rejected by the people he'd come to save and heal, and was nailed to the Cross. He was killed using the most painful, humiliating, and drawn-out method devised by the Roman Empire, people who were experts in killing criminals in the worst possible way—where do you think we got the word “excruciating,” by the way?
            And of course that’s not the worst of it. The physical and emotional agonies were nothing compared to what he endured as the Father laid on him the iniquity of us all. He offered no complaints about anything he underwent, until the Father poured out on Jesus' back the wrath which was due our sin: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
            Paul here is arguing from the greater to the lesser. If the Father was willing to give up his own beloved Son for his enemies, do you think he’d skimp on giving us—his children and co-heirs--things of lesser value? That’s the point of the illustration of the “rented” wrapping paper. After paying over a thousand dollars for a watch for my friend, do you think I’d be worried about saving the wrapping paper?
            Jesus died a horrible death in your place in order to bring you to himself, in order to save you. Do you think he’d skimp on giving you whatever else you need?
            Let’s bring this into the practical realm right now. Maybe you’re in marriage that’s falling apart. Maybe your finances are really hurting right now. Or maybe the last news from the doctor is keeping you up at night.
            He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for you—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give you all things?
            And of course this applies in the next life as well. In the book of Revelation, John exhausted his vocabulary trying to express to us in human terms what the Father has in store for us. As glorious as you imagine your Home to be, I promise that your imagination hasn’t come close to the reality. He spared no expense in bringing you into his Kingdom in the first place. How generous do you think he’s going to be once he gets to lavish on you as his child?
            Please ponder it.

Father, words utterly fail me in expressing how wonderful you are to me. How dare I think of you as stingy or tightfisted when it comes to blessing your children?

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