April 5, 2017 – Wednesday
Read: Romans 6:15 – 23, NIV
Focus: v. 23, NIV
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In a somewhat free-ranging discussion at one of our “coffee” times recently, someone was mentioning that they were working three jobs and going to school. That reminded me of my last year of college when I worked three part-time jobs while going to school full-time. Between the campus Post Office, Mersereau Hall, Chili Plastics and keeping up with my classes, there was not much time left for myself or any activities I might have wanted to get involved in. However, I was able to graduate without taking an additional semester of classes and was thus able to get into the work force earlier to pay off some of those school bills. Wages were not very high in those days so it was often a real struggle.
Our focus verse speaks of wages and a gift. Gifts are nice, aren’t they? I remember occasionally receiving a gift in the mail while at college from a family member or friend of the family. I was always very grateful and appreciative as that enabled me to occasionally stop at a café for a cup of coffee or a hamburger. Anything was a welcome change from cafeteria food! But, talk about opposites, what a difference between the wages. It would seem like an easy choice, right? Apparently we have a problem with that gift, though, because it seems so hard to believe it really is a gift! Think about it. Why is it such a problem? Sin, going the way of the world, leads to death and there is a free gift offered that leads to eternal life! On the surface, at least, it seems a no-brainer. However, we humans seem to always want to look a gift horse in the mouth and be mightily suspicious. All Jesus really seems to be saying here is, “You can continue to work for death or you can receive a free gift of eternal life instead.” Why make it so hard? Either we work and slave just to receive death or we receive God’s gift of eternal life “in Jesus Christ our Lord.” The little word “BUT” in there is simply telling us we have a really valid choice here. Why not accept it at face value?
We work for someone. We slave for someone. Those are the terms Paul is presenting here. We are basically “owned” (slaves) by what or who we work for. The end result is what we have to be aware of. Am I working just to die? Or, am I working to live eternally? Paul makes the issue very clear, doesn’t he? So, whose slave are you? Who is your boss? Is it this world or God? Are you working for death or life?