By: Destin Givens
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
Many people talk about what they think they deserve. All of us have heard things like, “I deserve to get that day off from work,” or “He deserves to be treated like everyone else”. This is true even among Christians. I have a tendency to over analyze people’s words, so oftentimes when I hear these things, my mind wanders to a much more profound question: Do we realize that if God were to give us what we truly deserve, we would be cast into hell?
We are accustomed in our culture of speaking of what people deserve or of what certain people’s rights are. Perhaps this has been displayed no better than in the recent arguments over homosexual marriage. You may have noticed that proponents of the Supreme Court ruling commonly use the language of “rights” and “justice.” Now don’t get me wrong, the debate is not wrong in and of itself. We need to have public debates about the nature and limits of our freedoms. There are certain rights that individuals should have acknowledged by others, and especially by their government. But the conversation leads me, as a Christian, to have another question for each of us to consider: “With so much talk of what we deserve from our government and from our neighbors, what do we believe are our rights when we come face to face with our Creator against whom we have all rebelled?”
You see, God created men and women with (and for) a purpose. Jesus stated this purpose in simple terms: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Each and every one of us has failed, however, to live up to this purpose. We have fallen short of the glory of God. We have sinned.
Romans 6 tells us that the “wages of sin” is death. When someone does a job and performs a service, he expects to receive payment for the work he has completed. One can reasonably say it is indeed what he “deserves”. So what do we, as sinful creatures truly deserve? What have we earned but Death? Please, ask yourself those questions individually. Let us not think about it as a collective “we”, but as an “I”. It can be striking to our egos when we personalize Scripture and see that it is truly talking about ME, not just everyone in a general sense, but ME, in a very particular sense. I deserve death because I have sinned.
This is why the good news of Jesus’s death for sins is so amazing. Even though we have robbed God of His glory by dethroning Him in our hearts by seeking to rule ourselves, though we have all said in our hearts that we wished God didn’t exist so that we could just do what we want, though we have rejected the only good and perfect One, He still has offered us the gift of salvation.
“The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Praise God that verse does not end with the word “death!” Paul ends the sentence by highlighting not the paycheck, but the free gift, A gift is something that can never be earned or purchased, and it is offered to us.This gift can not be earned through good works towards others, bought with tithing, or deserved by Bible reading or a regular prayer time. It can not be infused to us through baptism or consumed into our bodies through the Lord’s Supper. No, a gift is not purchased by the one who gets it. It is purchased only by the one who gives it. The gift is simply received gladly and humbly by the one to whom it is given.
The Bible tells us clearly and unashamedly that we all really do deserve an eternal death away from the presence of God, but praise Him it also states that through Christ Jesus the free gift of being brought back to God is offered freely to all who receive it. Oh, that we might see with unclouded eyes the excellency and beauty of this God who offers this infinitely good gift!
Destin Givens lives in Louisiana. You can follow him on Twitter at @givensdj.