Earnings vs. Gift
This week was a crazy week! I worked extra hours on the job. My boss even commented, “Oh you’re getting a good check this week, you worked “x” number of hours!” With Christmas right around the corner, knowing our financial situation was looking a little bleak, I thanked God for the opportunity to make extra money. I figured out how much I earned with those hours. I won’t be rolling in the dough, but the extra will come in handy. I may be busted today, but tomorrow will be better. I know that pay is coming down the pike. I feel like doing a little Fred Flintstone twinkle toes all the way to the bank!
I thought about that as I read Romans 4:4-5 “Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”
We can look at our place in heaven in two ways. One is accurate, the other is not. Some folks like to think that their good works or following the rules guarantees them a mansion in the clouds. They have done all the right things, worked at charities, lived a “clean” life. Surely God would not punish a “righteous” man or woman. “I have earned heaven,” some who are not familiar with God's word might say.
Ok, let’s look at our own righteousness, apart from Christ, and see what we’ve really earned. “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6 And there’s Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Okay, so you’re not perfect. No one is. Indeed, “as it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one” Rom 3:10 So that is it for our “good” works.
“But I have a good heart,” you say. Well, let’s look at our hearts. The scriptures tell us, ”the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jer. 17:9 Yes, the human heart is deceitful. We even deceive ourselves in it. Our hearts will trick us into thinking we are just “good enough” for heaven. But my dear friend, while you may be a far better person than me, I will share with you what your works have earned you. Its not a place reserved in heaven with cute little cherubim flying around. God’s word says, “For the wages of sin is death…, Rom. 6:23a What we have earned is death, spiritual death apart from God. That’s it. That’s our paycheck. No fancy Fred Flintstone footwork will get us into heaven. That’s a difficult truth to take in. Fortunately for us God always meets truth with His mercy. The rest of that scripture says, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. “ Rom 6:23b
God gave us the tremendous gift of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus bore the wages of our sin. He cashed in that dreadful check and it was paid in full when Jesus went to the cross. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
Christmas is the season for gift-giving. We give each other some pre-t-ty nice gifts this time of year. But God gives us the BEST gift ever…salvation through faith! As Ephesians 2:4 says, But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us…” God is in the perpetual state of Christmas all year long, every day and in every minute. He promises, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ez. 36:26
Are you tired of trying to be good enough, yet long to truly be “good” in God’s eyes? The only way to be that is to be clothed in the righteousness of His Son, Christ Jesus, by faith. Trust that what God’s word says is true! Don’t listen to my words, believe and stand firmly on the word of God! “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” Eph 2:8 ESV It’s all a gift from God, yes, even your faith. In other words, God not only gifts you with a new heart and a new destination for your soul, but He gives you the vehicle to get there! Faith! What better gift is there than that of salvation this Christmas season? None!
God gave His very best in Christ Jesus. My prayer is that this truth would resonate in your heart today. That you would confess your sin, agree with God. Turn to God and receive the free gift that God prepared for you since before the beginning of time. He’s been waiting a long time for some of you to receive it from Him. Pray, with your heart knowing this, “… everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' Acts 2:21 Merry Christmas!