Four Pennies

Stacks of PenniesThis morning I drove through the McDonald’s drive-thru, purchasing my lower calorie Egg McMuffin (instead of the Bacon, Egg, & Cheese McGriddle I would have preferred), and heard the expected price of $3.01 over the intercom. I retrieved a five dollar bill and a nickel and, having pulled up to the first window, handed it to the man in the booth. He seemed to be having a good time–which might seem amazing in some ways–laughing, either at something someone said over his headset or at something that just crossed his mind. However, it became clear that he was not paying as much attention to his work as he was to something else. As he took my money and made change, he counted out, “$3.01 from $5.01. That’s two dollars in change.” He handed me two one dollar bills and continued laughing while I pulled forward to accept my poached egg sandwich.

I actually had hoped to get those four pennies back since I sometimes need them for change elsewhere. I expected them back because, well, that was what I was owed. But I can live without those four pennies, which is why I just drove on. But that led me to thinking about the casual approach to life we often have in which we enjoy numerous distractions and fail to pay attention to what we are doing. Four pennies is not that much money. But what if those were four sins?

Christians should live for Christ every moment of every day (Gal. 2:20). And I am so thankful for those who make this a real priority (Col. 3:1-2). But many Christians seem content to live generically for Christ without showing much concern for the details of Christian living. They feel spiritual and talk about Jesus and Christianity, but they remain too distracted by their love of the world (1 Jn. 2:15-17), by crusading against others’ faults (Matt. 7:1-5), and by feeling good about themselves due to making unbalanced comparisons (2 Cor. 10:12) to pay attention to the dangers of various sins and problems of error. They have begun to think in such generic terms about Jesus and Christianity that their lives reflect their fuzzy thinking. All of the sudden they do not show much concern for sins against marriage (1 Cor. 6:18-20; Matt. 19:1-12). They seem oblivious to the spiritual problems with alcohol (Prov. 20:1). They appear unconcerned about the specifics involved in worshipping in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24). They just don’t seem to have time for those details. After all, it’s just a few pennies. In many ways, this is the same problem people have who think they are saved but never bother with what God specifically says about being saved (1 Pet. 3:20-21). In their mind’s eye they are focusing on bigger, more important things. But if you cannot see why how you worship matters, why biblical morality matters, and why baptism matters–and why all of this matters to Jesus–then you do not really see or know Jesus. Jesus, you see, cares about true repentance (Acts 17:30). “Exact change” matters to Him (Eph. 4:17-24).

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt 7:21–23).

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