Commentary

Trick or treat

Alemayehu Tulu

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:13

I love getting letters. It is fun for me to sit down over a cup of coffee and go through my mail. Unfortunately, much of my mail is junk mail.

I remember when I first came to America and received junk mail. I would say, “Oh, how nice of the writer to think of me and send me a letter.” I never realized how they were doing this to take advantage of gullible people like me.

I once received a personalized letter from a sweepstakes company telling me to enter it in order to win a great prize. Curious, I entered it.

Within a few weeks I got a letter saying, “Ale, you could win one of these prizes. We guarantee you a car, land, or gold; respond quickly.” I was so excited, I filled out the form and sent it back immediately. I even agreed to buy five pieces of luggage to increase my chances to win.

Sometime later a letter came to me saying, “Congratulations, Ale Tulu! You just won land in Mexico.” In the envelope was a certificate for the land signed by some Mexican official along with pictures of my piece of land. There was also a letter telling me I must pay some taxes on the land in order to keep it.

I began to jump for joy. But then, as I began to think more about this deal, I was puzzled. The land, for which I had to pay taxes, was in a remote rural area. Also, when so many Mexicans are going through a lot just to come to America, why would I want land in Mexico?

Well, it was a scam.

Be gentle, and what was that other thing?

Soon I came to learn how people play tricks on us and take advantage of us if we don’t use our best judgment. The Bible says, “Be wise like a serpent and gentle like a dove.” Matthew 10:16.

Such letters no longer interest me. When I receive them, I don’t waste my time or money. I just throw them in the trash and move on to those letters from family, friends, and my workplace.

When it comes to getting letters and reading them, the best ones are love letters. I remember those letters I used to get from my wife before our marriage when we lived thousands of miles apart. They were precious — and still are — and I used to read them over and over.

In the same way, the best letters of all are not the ones that come in the mail, but the ones sent to us by God through the apostles. They tell us about God’s amazing love and ultimate plan for us, which is to live with God in heaven throughout eternity.

How often do you read those letters written to you from God? They are not deceitful like that junk mail. They are sincere. They are not a trick but a treat. So, read and treasure them.

Thanks be to God for God’s love letters.

Alemayehu Tulu is pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Thief River Falls, Minnesota. This article is adapted from Zion’s newsletter “The Herald.”

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