I had some time to kill, so I decided to give the slot machine a try. I fished a quarter out of my purse, popped it into the machine and gave the one-armed bandit a turn. Suddenly, right there, on my first try, that quarter turned into $20. I was ecstatic! I squealed with delight. Immediately, I was surrounded by people, eager to see what was going on. “What did you win?!” a lady asked. “$20!” I beamed proudly. The lady’s tone quickly changed. “Oh,” she commented, sounding slightly unimpressed. The crowd subsided and there I was, alone, watching coin after coin fall into my tiny souvenir cup. I only had $10 left in my pocket for the rest of the trip. Turning a quarter into $20 right off the bat was a big deal. I shrunk into my seat out of embarrassment. I felt like I was being treated like a silly little girl for showing so much enthusiasm.
Although, I am older now, I still look back on the incident and remain dumbfounded by the crowd’s attitude. A win is a win, isn’t it? Why shouldn’t I have been joyful? It’s a shame they put a damper on such a fun moment. What would have happened if I had won the jackpot? Perhaps a rousing procession through the casino as they lifted me up on their shoulders? Striking it rich is the only reason to be joyful, huh?
When Jesus preached in Nazareth, the townspeople were less than enthused. The verse says that at first they were amazed, but then, “they scoffed, ‘He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.’ They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him…and he [Jesus] was amazed at their unbelief.” (Mark 6: 3-6)
I then thought about the story of the woman at the well. She was a woman who undoubtedly felt humiliated after she discovered that Jesus knew about all her marriages. She was enthralled with Jesus’ promise of living water, and she went and told everyone in the village. They responded differently. They didn’t further humiliate the woman or bring up her position, and they didn’t even pick a fight with Jesus, for being an “enemy”. They longed for salvation and begged Jesus not to leave them.
I also thought about Rhoda, the servant girl who was trying to tell everyone that Peter had been delivered from prison. “When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone…’You’re out of your mind’ they said.” (Acts 12: 14-15) It is so ironic that they didn’t believe that Peter was free, because they had all been praying exactly that for days.
Our salvation is something to be excited about. Yet, the thought of telling others makes us cower, just like I did, when I won that “small potatoes” $20. We are afraid of the response we might get. Perhaps we have tried, and we received a similar response as Jesus did in Nazareth; Scoffing, dismissive unbelief. “Oh, Jesus saves, does he? What makes you so sure? I know what kind of person you used to be. You have no right to tell me how to live my life.”
I took my daughter to a stage production of Mary Poppins recently. There was a profound line that stuck with me. “That coin is worth six-pence, but the value of money is determined by how you spend it.” That $20 that I won was of more value to me than others. My salvation and my walk with Jesus Christ is the most valuable thing I have, but when I tell people about it, they refuse to see it’s value. What it is, is winning big. I don’t tell people about Jesus to get a big “look-at-me” ovation. I do it, because the benefits outweigh the eye rolls. What comes with a relationship with God is more precious than anything of worth this world has to offer: Addictions broken. Families restored. New Mercies. Heavenly joy. Saved souls that were destined to die.
Tainted wealth has no lasting value, but right living can save your life. Proverbs 10:2 (NLT)