Home Opinion Columnists Guest Columnist Wages and gifts: Godís love pays steep price for our sins
Wages and gifts: Godís love pays steep price for our sins
Wages! Line 7 of the U.S. 1040 tax form asks for a report of your “wages” and other compensation you earned for the year.
Wages are distributed according to a person’s work. I cherish wages I have received for every job I have done. My wages were 50 cents an hour for my dad as I did work on the farm as a child. Eventually, I was old enough to have a minimum wage job of $2.50 an hour — for picking rock in the spring, hoeing beans and driving grain truck.
We work for our wages. This is part of our world — we get what we work for. We are to be diligent workers. Let us carry on.
Yet part of God’s world also includes love, for “God is love” (1 John 4:16). There are people in this world who share love with us. While I was a college student, my grandmother would send me a monthly card with supportive words and a $20 bill in it. I did nothing to earn this $20; it was a gift because of her love to me.
Wages and gifts: with each we receive. Wages are earned according to what we do, and gifts are given because of the love of the giver.
This brings me to a verse that concludes a very insightful chapter of Scripture — Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Some may ask, “Sin — what’s that?” while others do the comparing game and say, “I am not as bad off as the next guy.”
There is much to say about the little, three-letter word: sin. Yet, for this article, let us have the following divine truths show us sin’s inescapable condition for mortal mankind. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).
So much for mankind. Now the concept of God being a gracious gift-giver is a well-documented reality.
Consider the following: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9), “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows” (James 2:17), and "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). There are more than these verses that show God as a loving gift-giver; consider John 3:16 and others.
Wages of sin and the gift of God are directive concepts as we go through Lent. On Feb. 22, many Christians recognize Ash Wednesday with a somber service in which we recognize that we came from dust and to dust we will go. This mortal body that humans live in is a temporary abode, a “tent,” that has numbered days. Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten Season, which is the 40-day period before Easter. Note that if you count the days from Feb. 22 to April 8 (Easter), you will count 46 days, but the Sundays are excluded from being part of Lent. Lent is a time of penitence, or sorrow for sin — wrongs, failures, falling short of Divine perfection — with a turning to the Lord. Sundays remain in the Lenten Season, but are not part of the Lenten Season, being “mini-Easters” in which we worship and receive from the resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ.
Let us recognize what we deserve for sin: “The wages of sin is death ... ” With this recognition, we are led to turn away from our sin. As we turn, let us receive God’s gift with gratitude, "the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is the penitent behavior that the Lenten Season brings to us.