A beggar stopped a lawyer on the street in a large southern city and asked him for a quarter. Taking a long, hard look into the man's unshaven face, the attorney asked, "Don't I know you from somewhere?"
"You should," came the reply. "I'm your former classmate. Remember, second floor, old Main Hall?"
"Why Sam, of course I know you!" Without further question the lawyer wrote a check for $10,000. "Here, take this and get a new start. I don't care what's happened in the past, it's the future that counts." And with that he hurried on.
Tears welled up in the man's eyes as he walked to a bank nearby. Stopping at the door, he saw through the glass well-dressed tellers and the spotlessly clean interior. Then he looked at his filthy rags. "They won't take this from ME! They'll swear that I forged it," he muttered as he turned away.
The next day the two men met again. "Why Sam, what did you do with my check? Gamble it away? Drink it up?"
"No," said the beggar as he pulled it out of his dirty shirt pocket and told why he hadn't cashed it.
"Listen, friend," said the lawyer.... "What makes that check good is not YOUR clothes or appearance, but MY signature. Go on, cash it!"
Isaiah described the sinful condition of man in a very descriptive and truthful way: "ALL of us have become like one who is unclean, and ALL our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we ALL shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away" (Isaiah 64:6).
The Good News is... that Jesus has “written a check” to cover our debt of SIN. The payment for OUR SIN cost Jesus HIS LIFE. He bore our sins in His own body on the cross, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness. We can be healed of our sinful condition because He PAID THE PRICE for sin (1 Peter 2:24).
As we look at OUR filthy rags, however, we may feel unworthy of “cashing the check.” Ashamed at our fruitless attempts to live the way that we should, we don’t feel like we deserve a fresh start. That’s the beauty of grace: we DON'T deserve it, BUT because of His love and mercy, God wants to give us a NEW BEGINNING. We will NEVER be able to earn this new life; we must simply “cash the check.”
What makes God’s “check” of salvation good is not YOUR clothes or appearance, but HIS signature, written with the cleansing BLOOD of Jesus!
To “cash” God’s check of salvation... we must place our faith in Him (Hebrews 11:6), repent of our sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38), AND dedicate the rest of our lives to faithful obedience to His will (1 John 1:7).
Don't let the "tattered clothes" of your past keep YOU from cashing God's "check" of salvation.
-- God bless you, David A. Sargent - May, 2003 (with permission) --