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Today’s Truth

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.”

Let’s Pray

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 sharon@sharonjaynes.com with your friend’s name and I’ll personalize it you or for your friend(s).

 

© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.

6 Responses to “Trading in Your Green Stamps”

  1. Linda says:

    I remember the S&H green stamps days well. I have a glass fruit bowl on my counter Mom got over 60 years ago. My mother died when I was 10, Jesus has cared for me well and the intact bowl is a reminder of his provision.

  2. Anna Marie Lottman says:

    Hi Sharon, I remember the S&H green stamps very well. You see when I was about 9 Years old. My mom and I lived in a very small one bedroom apartment. I am not sure how we ate or for that matter I had very little clothes . Maybe two dresses and that’s about it. One wish barely covered my bottom and kids would laugh at me. Those were the hardest times in my childhood. They make me very grateful for all I have today ,and the wonderful husband that God has chosen for me. Well getting back to these stamps, mom didn’t have money to buy my sister and I Christmas presents. So she and cashed in the stamps and got us each a Christmas present of our choosing. My sister would hear mama crying at night cause she had a hard time providing for us. My father had been a drunker and not paying child support . I’m not sure how we survived only by the grace of God. I guess you could say this is my story. I’m glad I could share . Thank you for this message it brought up a lot of memories and makes me even more thankful for all I have .

  3. Lillian says:

    Jesus does have a “Green Stamp Store.” It’s called His church. There we can go and turn over all of our sins to Him. Some may say you don’t need to be in a church to do that, and they would be correct. It’s about having a community of believers to love and support you. Each and everyone one of us in a church has been redeemed, over and over again. Going to church every week is like going to the “Green Stamp Store” to redeem your stamps, except we are laying down our sins in exchange for His forgiveness.

  4. Vickey says:

    I believe I’m not alone in my life’s redemption. Green stamp redemption is instant. As soon as you lay your bag of books in the counter, your choice is instantly handed to you. My redemption was a process starting with the feeling that I was the only mistake God made, then through I’m sure God inspired events in my life, I realizes I was the one that made the mistake.I am not a mistake, I am worthy of God’s redemption.
    Thank you for your daily devotion to helping me and all the rest of us GIG women to see, believe and experience God’s love.

  5. Shirley says:

    When I think back about the green stamps, I remember being excited and grateful that our family was redeeming stamps for a toaster. What kid gets excited about a toaster these days anyway? When I consider the stamps and redemption in the spiritual aspect, I see the stamps (the blood of Christ) covering my sin and my sin sick heart is traded for a heart that is clean and pure as snow!

  6. Miriam says:

    This story reminded me of how my “Mami” collected S&H Green Stamps and when they announced that they were discontinuing the program she redeemed her last batch of Green Stamps to get me my very first Bible…I was 12 yrs old and it is still in my possession, 52 years later. Mom went home to our Lord on January 31 of this year…and that Bible is my most treasured and cherished gift.💟

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8