Thursday, March 30, 2017

Outlast those wages....

The greatest use of a life is to spend it on something that will outlast it. (William James)  There comes a time when we all will have to ask ourselves if we have lived in such a way so as to leave a positive impact in the lives of those we have touched. We might have accomplished the big things such as graduating from college, landing that first "great job" that provided the way we bought our first house, or rose to the top in our industry. The big things aren't always the things that will live on, though. They aren't the things that leave that legacy in the lives of those who come behind us and who have observed the way we lived our lives. Sure, they were all milestones and "great things", but in the scheme of eternity - will they matter?

The wages that sin pays are death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 CEB)

What outlasts our accomplishments? What outlives our lives? Isn't it the evidence of grace - lived out today, given away to those who need it most, pointing others to its embrace? Consider for a moment that grace is a gift - not to be hoarded and squirreled away for just a few - but generously and freely given to all - even those who don't know they have need of it. To live in such a way so as to give what can in no way be earned is truly to leave a legacy that will outlast your life on this earth and live on into eternity!

Two things I'd like us to take from our passage today:

1. Sin renders wages - wages are something we "earn" because we have done something to deserve them. As a teen, you mow the grass of at the neighbor's house, or babysit their kids so they can have a night out together. In turn, they "pay" you a fair "wage" for the time you spent with the kiddos or the job you did on the lawn. You "did" something and you "received" payment for what you did. Isn't that exactly what a "consequence" is? It is the result of what was done earlier - much like the wages we earn for doing a job. Sleep through class and you don't pass the mid-term. The failing grade isn't a "gift" - it is a "consequence" or "payment" for your inattentiveness in class. Sin renders a wage, unlike grace that is received as a gift. Sin's wage is based upon something WE do - it is the consequence of either our action or inaction.

2. Grace provides what we didn't earn by our action or inaction. It is a gift - something given voluntarily without payment in return. It is undeserved and freely given. God's gift to us is grace in the face of us having "earned" the wages of sin - all those things we "deserve" because of our sin. God's plan isn't for us to earn grace, but to receive it, then gift it again and again to those we touch each and every day.  A legacy isn't as much about what we have "earned" along the way, but what we have "given" as we have lived. It is about love demonstrated in the kindness of acknowledging a need and meeting it however we are able. It is about saying less and acting more. It is about time spent and less about the things one can afford. 

We don't live in such a way that our lives outlast us through "earning" anything. We live in such a way so as to have our lives outlast us into eternity because we have first been embraced by the grace of God and then we in turn give away that grace in ways that are counter-intuitive to the consequences of what others may have deserved by their actions toward us. We demonstrate grace - it isn't an "accomplishment" we add to our list. Grace may not mean we avoid all consequences of sin, for some wages are paid simply because we earned them. Grace does mean we live beyond those consequences, or in spite of them, in such a way that points others to the same grace they will need when they realize they have "earned" the same wages as you have! Just sayin!