March 10, 2021
Trading in Your Green Stamps
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree” (Galatians 3:13 ESV).
Friend to Friend
When I was a little girl, my mom did her grocery shopping at White’s Supermarket on the corner of Tarboro and Pearl Streets. Other grocery stores were close by, but only White’s gave out S&H Green Stamps.
On shopping days, I stood on tiptoes, bug-eyed as the cashier pushed the buttons and rang up my mom’s purchases. My mom lit up every time she heard the cha-ching, knowing that meant more stamps were on the way. After the cashier tallied the purchases, she pulled a lever and the register spit out two streams of stamps—large and small. We never put the stamps in books right away. Mom stuffed them in a brown paper bag and stored them in a cabinet over the oven.
About every six months, Mom pulled down the grocery bags swollen with S&H Green Stamps. “Okay, Sharon,” she’d announce as she spilled the contents on the kitchen table. “Today we’re going to paste the stamps in the books.”
We’d make an afternoon of filling up the pages. The large stamps representing fifty cents spent went one to a page. Smaller stamps representing one cent spent went fifty to a page. I liked doing the big ones.
After six months of collecting stamps and hours spent pasting them in the books, my mom and I excitedly drove down to the S&H Green Stamp Redemption Center. With bags stuffed like a Loomis Fargo transfer, we plopped our day’s work on the clerk’s desk.
“Whatcha gonna get?” I’d ask Mom as we strolled up and down the aisles of housewares.
“I don’t know,” she’d reply. “But it’ll be something good.”
After much consideration, Mom would decide on a treasure such as an electric can opener, a steam iron, or a shiny set of stainless-steel mixing bowls. Oh, it was an exciting day when we traded in our stamps for a fabulous find!
I share this vintage memory because I love how it offers a simple picture of a complex concept called “redemption.” If you’ve been around in the church world much, you’ve probably heard that word a lot. It’s one of those words that can also be a little intimidating, to the point that we might pretend we know what it means even when we’re a little fuzzy on the particulars.
So, what exactly does redemption mean? The dictionary defines redemption as “the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil; the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment or clearing a debt; to exchange something such as a coupon for something else.” Just to keep things simple, that entire definition can be boiled down to this: Redemption means trading one thing for another.
We took our stamps to the center and traded them—redeemed them—for something better.
Consider these verses about how Jesus traded in one thing—His life for another—our salvation.
- In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesians 1:7 ESV
- Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. Galatians 3:13 ESV
- For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed form the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19
If Jesus had owned a store in his hometown, I think it would have been something like an S&H Green Stamp Redemption Center. His earthly ministry could be defined as encouraging people to trade in one thing—their sinful lives, for another—the righteousness of Christ through salvation.
And then God calls us to tell about it: “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story” (Psalm 107:2 NIV).
You may not have a bag of Green Stamps accumulating in a brown bag over your oven, but I’m guessing you probably do have some stories tucked away in a dark place just waiting to be told. Let me encourage you to get out those stories—the ones with lessons both big and small. Press them in the book called “Brave,” and experience redemption at its best as hope is born in the lives of others.
“Whatcha gonna get?”
“I don’t know, but it’ll be something good.”
Father, there are some parts of my story I would rather have been left out. But I know that You can turn a bad story into a good purpose. Give me the courage to tell others about how You healed my broken places, especially the ones that have been wrought by my own decisions.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Did you or your mom ever collect Green Stamps?
If so, what was the best thing you ever traded them in for?
What feelings does it stir in your heart to know that Jesus traded in His life for yours?
More From the Girlfriends
You don’t have to be burden and weighed down by your story any longer. In When You Don’t Like Your Story: What if Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories I show you how that pain can be transformed into a great purpose!
Have you already read When You Don’t Like Your Story and thought of several people who need to hear this message? If so, order from www.sharonjaynes.com and I’ll personalize it for you. Simply order and then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your friend’s name and I’ll personalize it you or for your friend(s).
© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.