“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 ESV
How many remember their first job? Maybe it was mowing lawns or babysitting. Your first employer may have been your parents or family friend, someone that was willing to allow you to earn a little spending money. Do you remember that great feeling you had upon completing the job of collecting your wages? You had worked hard for that money, and now you had your reward.
Another income source as a kid was the occasional cash gift - maybe for a birthday, Christmas, or graduation. This was free money, no work involved, given just because they loved you.
Paul uses the illustration of wages and gifts to define our relationship with sin or God. Unfortunately, unlike the wages we earned in the first jobs that we felt good about, our payment for sin is death. Perhaps not physical death, but certainly the death of our souls. The decisions we make about how we are employed and how we will spend our time are up to us. What we sow, we will also reap (Galatians 6:7). If we work for sin, the wages should be no surprise. On the other hand, we can choose a gift that is free to us because Jesus already paid the price.
Imagine someone - we will call them Satan (not subtle, I know) - coming to you with an offer, “Work for me for ten years. At the end of that time, you will receive a salary of 10 million dollars. Oh, yes, one more thing, your soul will belong to me. No pressure, sign here.” Another person - we will call them Jesus - comes to you with a counteroffer, “I want to have you as part of my family. You do not need to do anything. If you accept my offer, you become part of my inheritance. I cannot offer you 10 million dollars, but I can offer you a life beyond this.” Granted, I made up this example, but the choice is no less clear. Work for sin and be willing to accept the payment or accept Christ’s gift, which promises eternal life.
Father, we come to you today, given thanks for your gift. Free to us because Jesus paid the price. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden, you give us a choice. We face temptations daily and enticed by its many momentary pleasures. We know that this path leads to the death of our souls. Please help us today as we reject those wages and accept your gift. A gift we know we are not worthy of but which you extend simply because of your love for us. In the name of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.