Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
From verse 15 Paul comes back to how he started in verse 1, bringing up the dangerous absurdity of mistaking God’s grace for a license to do anything you like. He then expands on that with a word picture that is very uncomfortable to us today: slavery. Most people aren’t aware of how widespread actual slavery is today, only we call it “human trafficking.” We associate it with race, when it started with whoever lost in a war, in which race is largely coincidental. He then brings that word picture to a sharp point with this verse. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that the only thing a slave is “paid” is suffering and death. It is on that backdrop that the grace of God shines in all its glory. The biggest problem is that people refuse to recognize their own slavery, mistaking momentary pleasures for happiness, closing their eyes to the reality that they’re headed for hell. This verse is rightly quoted a great deal in evangelism, but all too many people close their ears to it. Paul uses the term, wages, here because we genuinely earn death by our rebellion against God, but the eternal life that is available in Christ can only be called a gift, because we can never do enough to earn it. Bringing someone to salvation involves the two steps of opening their eyes to the reality of their own condition, and then showing them that God has provided a way out, as only He could. When someone accepts God’s gift, even heaven rejoices! (Luke 15:10)
Of course, this applies to me on every level. I too had to acknowledge my sinfulness, my need, and humbly accept God’s gift. The problem is that between human foolishness and the devil’s lies, I tend to drift into the pride of thinking I’ve achieved salvation, when it is always and only God’s gift. I desire to lead others to salvation, but as a Teacher I tend just to dump information on them, all too often in ways they have no hope of really assimilating and making their own. That accomplishes nothing but confusion and frustration, all too often “inoculating” them against receiving the true Gospel! I’ve got to step back and let God be in full control, of whom to speak to, when and how, and let Him supply the words that will penetrate that person’s heart. Humanly, I want to run around handing out God’s gift, but it’s not mine to give, and He’s got to do it through me. Salvation is a miracle, whenever and however it happens. God has chosen to use people in communicating that salvation, and I’ve got to be humble enough to leave it in His hands.
Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s also a reminder that the salvation of souls is absolutely the first and highest priority. I let so many things get in the way! Help me be actively available, always ready for Your appointments, so that as many as will may be saved, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!