The man had lived much of his life in a dutiful devotion to God; attending church, helping out at Sunday School, participating in other outside church activities and outreaches. By all outward appearances, his was a life to be modeled.
So it came as a big surprise to all, when - after years of dutiful submission - his life became a trainwreck as he dived into a waste-pit of sin.
Graciously, God did not allow this man to live very long as a slave. He was eventually pulled out of the mud - more needy, and free.
Asked why he plunged into a life of sin the restored and now broken man said, "I had lived my whole life for God, as if He needed me. I thought that if I did enough for God, He would in turn keep my life safe, but stay out of my way. It finally all came to a head after years of bitter disappointment in God for not meeting my expectations and for never having received 'proper' repayment of my 'dutiful' acts. I had finally come to the conclusion that I hated God - and I'd had enough."
Such is the predicament for many dutiful Christians who flip their relationship with the Lord into a transaction, as if the Lord could be bought and manipulated to serve their purposes.
We would do well to remember that it was our Lord and Savior who has done all the needed transactions and we remain - and forever will remain - the beneficiaries of them. We will never repay the Lord. Nor should we try. Our Christian lives will be lived well in a spirit of brokenness and thankfulness to the Giver. Always in thanksgiving for what He did on our behalf, rescuing us from a sure death. With that in view and with our hearts filled to overflowing in thanksgiving, we rejoice, giving praise to our Father - not out of duty - but out of broken-hearted sorrow and joyful submission to our King.
Who has ever given to God, that He should repay him?...for from Him, and through Him and to Him are all things. Lord, help us to keep our relationship with you always on the receiving end of your mercy and love. Your ways are altogether right and true. Your purposes more wise and sure than ours could ever hope to be. Lord, we are your children, desperately in need of You.