Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Unmerited

Romans 6:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If God bestows His gifts - especially salvation - in unmerited grace (pardon the redundancy), then my salvation and the blessing of God’s gifts have nothing to do with me.  He doesn’t give them based on my actions or thoughts, how thankful I am or how much faith I have.  He gives them based on His will, which is (very generally) to glorify Himself, and to make His children more like Christ.

This is a huge blow to my pride - and I’m glad for it.  If it depended on me, then I would be anxious about my inevitable fall, since I know that I am not perfect.  Technically, I don’t have to strive to be perfect… but, in experiencing the blessing of God’s grace and love, I will naturally want to worship God, which is done (in part) by my obeisance (and obedience follows).  God does not require perfection of me.  That would be self-defeating, since, if I were truly perfect, I wouldn’t need His grace.  He does, however, command obedience.  

I often struggle with being obedient out of a sense of duty, or even guilt.  Duty and guilt are heavy burdens… that have no place in light of God’s grace.  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  His grace and its bestowal are not based on my obedience.  My guilt has no place now that He has set me free from the bondage of sin.  “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

My obedience, then, should be born of a tremendous thankfulness for the freedom that Christ has given me.  I owe Him a debt that I can never repay, but I will gladly offer myself (whom He paid for) back to Him in worship and obedience.  When I find myself slipping from thankfulness to duty, I have to take a good look at where my focus is.

Romans 8:6 says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”  Is my focus on my flesh, striving for merit and acceptance, when it is already freely given?  Or is my mind set on the Spirit, on Christ and what He has done?

Certainly, I am sinful, and the “…wages of sin is death…” BUT, to continue the verse, “…the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Recognizing how degraded (depraved) I am is important, but its usefulness is only found when compared with how righteous God is.  In this light, how evil I am just makes God and what He did (and does) for me shine all the brighter in His righteousness.  It is so important to train myself to keep my focus on Christ, because the moment I take my eyes off of Him, I am left with myself and my miserable sin.  The churning waves of the sea are gigantic when compared to me; I have no power to quell them.  But when compared to God, they are minuscule.

I thank God that grace is unmerited, because that is how He has set me free.  Collect your own list of verses to substantiate that grace is unmerited.  Choose one or two to memorize and meditate on.  What are the effects of that truth?

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