The Gift with a Catch

It would appear that the human race is not truly appreciative of anything that doesn’t require some effort on our part to obtain, even though many dream about winning the lottery or receiving a huge inheritance. Rather, it is the college student juggling a job, classes, and shopping according to the limitations of a backpack and a bike, who takes great delight in his first used car. Contrast that to children of wealth who receive a brand new sports/luxury car upon obtaining their driver’s licenses, only to wrap the car around a tree.

Is it possible we do the same thing with God? The greatest gift we could ever receive – so expensive NO amount of money could purchase it, eternal life/immortality, was given to us by God because only Jesus was qualified through His sinlessness to make atonement for us. Since we did not labor and struggle for this gift, has it lessened our appreciation of it?

The Apostle Paul, gives us a great self-test. “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.” (Romans 6:6, 12-13) Basically, Paul is saying we can demonstrate our appreciation of this priceless salvation gift by choosing to align our behavior and thoughts with God’s holiness.

Unfortunately, our everyday lives demonstrate we either don’t take our sin seriously, or we refuse to acknowledge it at all. We feel justified in making lewd hand gestures at the guy who cuts us off in traffic. We rationalize it’s ok to lie for a good reason. We argue that it’s harmless to meet an opposite sex co-worker for dinner and drinks (and whatever happens next). And of course it’s appropriate for me to judge the bad behavior of others. Changing these and similar behaviors is not only difficult, but more often impossible. Even Paul confesses, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19)

God knew this struggle would put us face-to-face with our sin, and expose our inadequacy to change our condition, thus highlighting our dependency upon His supernatural power daily. When we truly understand that the “wages of sin is death,” we become like the prostitute crying on Jesus’ feet and wiping off the tears with her hair. Jesus said, 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47)

The unparalleled wisdom of God requires our participation in desiring to throw off the sin that hinders our relationship with Him. The grace of God provides the Way to accomplish the impossible by donning His Righteousness. Through the reality check of where our hearts, actions, and words go on a daily basis, the gift of salvation never loses its precious awe.