Many years ago, Larry and I attended the wedding of some friends. The groom was a fellow cop with Larry and I'd just recently met the bride. When it was time for us to leave after dinner, we went up to the newly-weds. "We wish you the very best," Larry said, shaking his friend's hand and giving the bride a peck on the cheek.
I grinned and said, "The wedding was gorgeous and the reception was incredible. Thank you for a wonderful time."
The bride replied, "Kathy, wait just a minute. I have a gift for you."
She turned away while I stood there dumbfounded. Wait a minute, I thought. I brought her a wedding gift. She's not supposed to give me a gift. I'm not in her wedding so I didn't earn a gift (Tweet that!) and I didn't do anything to help her--so I don't deserve anything. We only met recently. Why is she giving me a gift?
I was amazed! I turned to Larry with a questioning look, but he returned my gaze as if to say, "Don't look at me. I don't know what's going on."
Within moments, the bride returned. In her hand she carried a white box four or five inches square with a delicate white ribbon wrapped around it. As she offered me the gift, I wanted to say, "I can't take this from you. You're not supposed to give me a gift. It's your wedding, not mine!" But realizing how rude that would be, I instead reached out my hand, took the box, and said, "That's so sweet of you. Thank you very much."
As we drove home, I began to untie the ribbon which was secured by a small adhesive seal which read, "Made in Milan, Italy." I gasped. "Oh, Larry. This must be expensive. Why did she give me this gift?"
I quickly pulled the box top off, peeled away the layer of tissue, and stared at a beautiful, sterling silver candy dish.
"Look, Larry! Isn't it lovely?" Larry nodded as I turned it over and over, studying its beauty. Then I noticed engraving in the center of the dish. "Larry, the initials of our friends are engraved in the center to remind us they gave it to us."
Then a wonderful thought dawned on me. "Larry, this dish could symbolize the gift of salvation God gave you and me. Just as I didn't do anything to deserve or earn this dish, so God offered the gift of His love and of being His child through Jesus, even though I couldn't do anything to earn or deserve it. Isn't that just like His grace? And since she hardly knows me, it represents God's generosity."
Larry's smile confirmed he knew exactly what I was talking about, especially since he was the one who had introduced me to God's gift of grace so many years earlier.
I still don't know why that generous couple gave me that stunning gift. Maybe it was their family tradition or a part of their culture.
I often use that gift to teach several truths at women's events.
The engraved initials represent spiritually how every Christian is "marked" and "sealed" by God's Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14 affirms, ...having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance. We receive God's gift of salvation and nothing can take away that gift.
Also, I didn't earn or deserve that gift and no one can earn or deserve God's love and grace. What an especially important truth for someone like me, a perfectionist! (Tweet that!) I think I should earn it!
Because the dish is sterling silver, it tarnishes and I have to clean it. In fact, I didn't clean it before I took the photo to make this point more apparent. Because we sin daily, we need to cleanse our soul by asking for forgiveness. We don't lose our salvation just as the initials in my dish won't go away. We are secure and "marked" forever. But some silver cleaner goes a long way to making it sparkling. And the Holy Spirit wants to cleanse us so that our sparkle of representing God's love sparkles and isn't dulled by sin.
I'm so grateful that our friends gave us that gift. They never could have known how God would use what it represents to me.