I'm wearing the ring you gave me

On my left hand is a symbol-a gold ring. Though not elaborate, it's priceless. It cost a pretty, young fourth-grade schoolteacher two hundred dollars. She gave it to me the day we married. The ring is a symbol of our love, a statement of our love, a declaration of our love, but it is not the source of our love.

When we have spats or trouble, I don't take off the ring and set it on a pedestal and pray to it. I don't rub it and seek wisdom. Were I to lose the ring, I'd be disappointed, but our marriage would continue. It is a symbol, nothing more.

Suppose I tried to make the ring more than it is. Suppose I became a jerk of a husband, cruel and unfaithful. Imagine that I failed to provide for Denalyn's needs or care for our children. What if one day she reached the breaking point and said, "You are not a husband to me. There is no love in your heart or devotion in your life. I want you to leave."

How do you think she'd respond if I countered, "How dare you say that? I'm wearing the ring you gave me. I've never removed it one minute! Sure I beat you and cheated on you, but I wore the ring. Isn't that enough?"

How many of you think such a defense would move her to apologize and weep, "Oh, Max, how forgetful of me. You have been so sacrificial wearing that ring all these years. Sure you have beaten me, abandoned me, neglected me, but I'll dismiss all that because you have worn the ring"?

Hogwash. She'd never say that. Why? Because apart from love, the ring means nothing. The symbol represents love, but it cannot replace love. Paul is accusing the Jews of trusting the symbol of circumcision while neglecting their souls. Could he accuse us of the same error?

Substitute a contemporary symbol such as baptism or communion or church membership.

"God, I know I never think about you. I know I hate people and cheat my friends. I abuse my body and lie to my spouse. But you don't mind, do you? I mean after all, I was baptized at that Christian camp when I was ten years old."

Or, "Every Easter I take communion."

Or, "My father and mother were fifth generation Presbyterians, you know."

Do you think God would say, "You're right. You never think of me or respect me. You hate your neighbor and abuse your kids, but since you were baptized, I will overlook your rebellion and evil ways"?

Hogwash. A symbol has no power apart from the ones who share it.

In my closet is a varsity football jacket. I earned it by playing two years of high-school football. It, too, is a symbol. It's symbolic of sweat and work and long hours on the practice field. The jacket and a sore knee are reminders of something I could do twenty years ago. Do you think if I put the jacket on now I'd instantly be twenty pounds lighter and a whole lot faster? Do you think if I wore that jacket into the office of a coach he'd extend his hand and say, "We've been waiting for a player like you. Go out there and suit up!"?

Hogwash. That jacket is merely a memoir of something I once did. It says nothing about what I could do today. It alone doesn't transform me, empower me, or enable me.

Neither does your heritage, even if you're a descendant of John Wesley.

Neither does your communion service, even if you double up on the wafers.

Neither does your baptism, even if you got dunked in the Jordan River.

Please understand. Symbols are important. Some of them, like communion and baptism, illustrate the cross of Christ. They symbolize salvation, demonstrate salvation, even articulate salvation. But they do not impart salvation.

Putting your trust in a symbol is like claiming to be a sailor because you have a tattoo or claiming to be a good husband because you have a ring or claiming to be a football player because you have a letter jacket.

Do we honestly think God would save his children based upon a symbol?

What kind of God would look at a religious hypocrite and say, "You've never loved me, sought me or obeyed me, but because your name was on the roll of a church in the right denomination I will save you"?

On the other hand, what kind of God would look at the sincere seeker and say, "You dedicated your life to loving me and loving my children. You surrendered your heart and confessed your sins. I want to save you so badly. I'm so sorry, your church took communion one time a month too many. Because of a technicality, you are forever lost in hell"?

Hogwash. Our God is abundant in love and steadfast in mercy. He saves us, not because we trust in a symbol, but because we trust in a Savior.

In the Grip of Grace

copyright [Word Publishing, 1996] Max Lucado, p. 48-50.

Used by permission

Receive our free newsletters

The Illustrator: This daily newsletter is dedicated to encouraging everyone to look towards Jesus as the source of all the solutions to our problems. It contains a daily inspirational story, a Bible verse and encouraging messages. HTML and plain text versions available. 


The Nugget: Published three times a week, this newsletter features inspirational devotionals and mini-sermons dedicated to drawing mankind closer to each other and to Christ.

Visit Answers2Prayer

Subscribe Here:
The Illustrator
The Nugget

Your email:

Please be aware that you will receive a confirmation message via email. Once you receive it, please click on the link mentioned in the email. If you have problems please email us.