Monday, September 30, 2013
An Honest Wage
For the wages of sin is death,
but the free gift of God is eternal life
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
How much do you make?
Kind of an intrusive question, don't you think? But it is a question that drives the American dream. We find our worth in our compensation - if we are entrepreneurial, we work hard at whatever we do (whether blue or white collar) to increase our value and bottom dollar. Our worth is tied to our success which is tied to our wages. If we are valuable to a company, they pay us well - they give us salary increases and bonuses. If we are paid on commission, then our wage is determined by our hard work and success in driving sales. If we want to improve our income, we get more education which takes us to a higher level of competency which earns a greater wage.
We want the wage that we earn to be consistent with the value we offer. If we aren't paid enough it affects not only our ability to live to the level we believe we deserve but we also won't last long at a job. Is it possible that our value is intrinsically connected to our wage?
Now, there are exceptions to this rule and I am presenting a very worldly mindset, but then again - I did say this was the foundation of the American dream. Here's my point - our wage is important to us. So let's flip this on it's head and take a quick look at our spiritual wage.
Two weeks ago we discussed the fact that there is no one who is righteous and last week we saw that all of us are sinners and fall short of God's glory. Our verse today tells us that our sin has earned a wage and that wage is death. But here's the problem - there is no pay scale when it comes to sin.
If there were a pay scale, then "death" could be somewhat negotiable. For example, when you look at your life and the choices you have made, undoubtedly you can see sinful and selfish times that have earned the label "sinner." But when you look at others', your level of sin is no where near theirs - you're not a drunk, you don't do drugs, you have only slept with a few people outside of marriage, you rarely overspend and your language is pretty clean in general. You think of eternal punishment and assume that you would probably end up in the first or second circle of hell (see Dante for more understanding), rather than one of the lower levels that's hotter and more severe.
And then there's the person who lived the wild life, slept around, had bad language and was at one time a habitual liar but now has cleaned up their act. Maybe this is you. So you start to play the scale game. All your sin gets put on one side of the scale and now your good works are put on the other side - going to church, praying, clean language, hard work, upstanding living - given enough time, you can tilt the scales in your direction which makes the wage for your sin seem to diminish.
(Insert annoying buzzer sound here)
All of this is stinking thinking. We start with the wrong comparison. When we stand in judgment before God, He doesn't compare us to other sinners and He doesn't compare where you came from and where you ended up.
He compares you to His Son - perfect, holy, righteous, pure and good.
So how do you compare?
Yeah, me, too.
This is why the wages of sin is death - not levels of death, not easier death than other deaths but just plain death. In the light of a holy God, our sin earns complete and utter separation from His presence. This is the bad news - so stop comparing yourself to others or your previous life and look at Jesus. Then and only then will your perspective be in the right place.
This is the bad news.
But there is good news - the FREE GIFT of God is eternal LIFE in CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD! The choice of words in this phrase is downright hope and life-giving! First of all - it's a FREE gift. We don't earn this one - we've already earned a wage that has determined our destiny. This is a costly gift that is free to you - eternal life, life forever - through the blood of Jesus Christ. He was paid the wage you earned - He took on your death so that you could have life.
Jesus in my place.
Friends, let's be realistic today on what we deserve and what we've been given. God's mercy and grace are on display in the life of the believer who lays down their pride and looks at themselves properly. When we understand that we bring nothing to the table, only then can we truly appreciate what has been given to us.
Decide today to life a life of gratitude for the free gift of eternal life provided to you by Jesus Christ our Lord.