For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Two words of that verse stick out to me. All right, yes church kids, “Jesus” and” Christ” are the two most important words there. But beyond that there are two more words—wages and gift.
If you read verses 6:15-6:22, Paul doesn’t come anywhere close to using the word gift. He’s using words like “slave,” “reap,” and “result.” Words that show cause-and-effect. Words that speak of consequences. You do this, you get that. He even continues that kind of language into verse 23 by using the word wages. Wages are getting paid what you are due. It’s about getting what you deserve.
Now either Paul doesn’t know how to stay on topic, or the word gift is meant to have some power behind it and stand out.
I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I know that the people of my country like to think they’re big on justice. If you do the crime you need to do your time. Justice! Yeah, we’re big on justice unless the coming judgment is aimed at us. Then we think that we’re being misrepresented or something. Everyone wants judgment until they are on trial, then you want something completely different…
You want grace.
Grace can be hard for people like me to accept because I’m so prone to speak with words like reap, result, and wages. The idea that God doesn’t want me to pay for every wrong I’ve done is honestly not easy for me to swallow, and it forces me sit with the weight of guilt and with a sense that I have to earn my way back to God.
But the truth is that I cannot possibly earn my way back to God, so God doesn’t make me even attempt to. He throws out the idea of wages, and instead gives us the gift of grace.
His gift says that I don’t have to feel guilty. His gift says that I am someone of value. His gift says I am allowed to laugh. His gift says I have power to change. His gift says I don’t have to become what I have been afraid I will become. His gift says I can see miracles. His gift says that even if I never do anything else he still could not possibly love me any less than he does right now.
Jesus took my wages. His gift is grace.
What once was hurt, what once was friction,
What left a mark no longer stings.
Because grace makes beauty out of ugly things.
Grace finds beauty in everything.