Aunt Ida and a Free Gift

Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. Titus 1:13-14

My father’s aunt was a feisty old woman named Ida.  She survived brain, stomach, and breast cancer in her 60’s.  In her 70’s, she shingled her own roof and laid flagstone on her outdoor patio.  In her 80’s, she still kept a loaded shotgun beside her bed and used to say, “Anyone who comes in here in the middle of the night without telling me ahead of time, will be picking buckshot out of their backsides.”  The language was spicier than that!  Aunt Ida was a version of Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies. 

Aunt Ida wasn’t good at accepting gifts.  She figured out how to repay you – making sure that she gave you more than you gave her.  Everything was a contest.  If you had her for dinner (which we did for most every holiday throughout my childhood), she would let you know, while she was still eating, that she would be reciprocating.  She would ask my mom for some of her recipes and announce that she was sure she could make them just as well, or maybe even better, than she had.  Was her payback meal really a gift?  It sure didn’t feel like it.  Lots of strings.

Despite this, she could be fun to hang out with.  We played dominoes most every weekend with a primitive homemade scoreboard that dated back to her farmhouse of the 1880’s.  She sure loved to win!

The false prophets in the church didn’t believe in the free gift of salvation.  They believed that men were good enough to earn God’s favor.  They added Jewish myths to the equation; Gentiles had to be circumcised and believers should abstain from the consumption of meat.  The sinister message behind everything was this ~ You must do religious things, religiously, to impress God and feel good about yourself.

These false teachers promoted a lifestyle that was characterized by ‘a form of godliness but without power.’  Christian cultures are full of people who talk alike, read the same books, attend the same conferences, and share the same communion bread.  Some have the power of the Spirit on the inside, but some are empty shells just going through the motions.  There are false teachers today who promote rule-keeping, giving approval and acceptance that is conditional upon conformity.  Guilt is used to keep the people in line.  Grace is a rare commodity.  So far from who Jesus is and what He graciously gave. 

Thank you. Amen

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