“Benefits Of The Free Gift” ( Romans 6: 23, NEB ) by Carley Evans

Paul is redundant, quite often. He appears to be trying as hard as he can to make the churches understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. He writes, “For sin pays a wage, and the wage is death, but God gives freely, and His gift is eternal life, in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul contrasts an earned wage with a free gift; he contrasts sin and death with eternal life and union with Christ. The benefit of the free gift, says Paul, is holiness. In contrast, the benefit of sin is death.

Paul says this is a matter of slavery: either slavery to sin or slavery to righteousness. “You used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” (Romans 6:19,NIV)

Paul writes of being “dead to the law through the body of Christ.” (Romans 7:4,NIV) “By dying to what once bound us, we are released from the law so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Romans 7:6,NIV)

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” concludes Paul. He is trying again to make the church understand the simple gospel of Christ; that the free gift of God is salvation from sin, the development of righteousness leading to holiness and eternal life.

The Kindness of Our Landowner (Matthew 20: 14 – 16, NEB) by Carley Evans

The man on his deathbed who recognizes his sin and repents is welcomed into the kingdom of Heaven the same as the young man who recognizes his sin and repents at his confirmation into the church body. God agrees to “pay” each the same wage; for as the wage of sin is death, so the wage of repentance is life.

God is bewildered by our complaint: ‘how come he gets the same as I do? I have served you all my life; he has just started to serve you right here at the end of his life when he has nothing more to offer. That’s not fair.’

God rebukes us; He tells us not to resent what He does with His creations. He is not unfair; He is kind. Neither the man who is dying nor the young man who is starting his life has anything to offer to God. God is the giver. We accept the gift, sometimes happily near the beginning of our lives; sometimes at their end.

Eternal life is the same for both. Recall how Jesus tells the thief on the cross, “I tell you this: today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23: 43)

“Thus will the last be first, and the first last.”