Gratitude and Grace
A Word from Theron St. who is a Crossroads Bible College graduate and current adjunct instructor.
One of the most powerful verses God has impressed upon my heart lately is Romans 6:23. The Scripture says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Apostle Paul has just made the point Christians are no longer slaves of sin but they have been set free and are now slaves and servants of God (Romans 6:15–22). He concludes the section by reminding the Romans of the penalty of sin and proclaiming to them the gift of God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:23 does the same for us. This verse both exposes us as sinners and exalts Christ as our Savior.
The Wages of Sin
When I consider the first half of verse 23, I am humbled. I am a sinner who has rebelled against a good and holy God. The penalty for my treason is death, just as God had warned Adam in the beginning (Genesis 2:17). Yet, the language the Apostle Paul uses here is not in terms of penalty. Instead, he says the “wages of sin”. In other words, the one who sins, which is all of us (Romans 3:23), deserves death. Because of their sin, they have earned death, both in a physical and spiritual sense. I find this intriguing because we can tend to view life through the lens of entitlement. Whether we care to admit it or even recognize it, our sinful nature reveals the thought we believe we deserve particular things. We think we deserve to be treated a certain way, to be given certain things, and to get our way. The reality is we do deserve something. What this verse from Romans teaches us is the one thing we truly deserve is death. What we are entitled to is physical and spiritual death. We have earned that wage because of our sin. As sinners, we face eternal separation from God and have brought the wrath of God upon ourselves. Simply put, the payment we deserve is death.
The Free Gift of God
Praise be to God, though, we do not receive what we deserve. The second half of Romans 6:23 exalts Christ and gives us hope, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” While we deservingly face death and separation from God, He has chosen to save us by His grace alone in Christ Jesus alone. God gives us grace, which is what we do not deserve. The verse calls it “the free gift of God”. It cannot be earned by our own doing. The free gift of God is entrusted to us as we recognize we are sinners, repent of our sin, and believe in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we realize we do not deserve anything but death, it is then we will be given eternal life. Life in Christ Jesus is a free gift.
The Response of Gratitude and Grace
When we see the mercy of God withholds what we deserve and the grace of God extends to us what we do not deserve, then our response becomes two-fold: we will be a grateful people and we will be a grace-giving people. Christians should be a people marked by gratitude, not grumbling. For example, when our human hopes and dreams do not come to fruition, we should not gripe but we should consider how God is growing us into greater Christ likeness. When we have such a perspective, we are more prone to gratitude. As well, Christians who are saved by God’s grace should be apt to extend grace and forgive. While objections may arise over the need to show grace, we must remember how greatly be have been forgiven by God in Christ (Matthew 18:21–25).
My encouragement to you is to understand we all deserve death, God in His grace has given us eternal life in Christ, and our lives in Him should be characterized by gratitude and grace. My prayer is we would all live marked by gratitude toward God for the grace of God.