When presented with an opportunity to receive something, children and adults can react differently. For instance, adults have normally grown skeptical and quote things like, “There is no such thing as a free lunch”, or naturally assume that there is always a catch. Kids are much more trusting, and get excited about receiving something, whether free currency in a video game (even if it came from a parent leaving their credit card information unlocked on the device), or a treat from an extended family member.
At Christmas, it is customary for many to exchange gifts, sharing with others freely – hopefully without trying to compel the recipient to share anything in return. In this season where giving is the norm, let us consider two kinds of free things that the ultimate Giver, the God of the universe, offers to us (not only at this time of year, but any day that we can call “today”).
First, there is the fact that salvation is offered to us without our having to pay the price.
But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:15-17 NLT
This gift is free to us: there is nothing we can do to earn, purchase, or merit it from God, but He offers it to us, anyway. However, in order to be able to give this gift, God didn’t just share something He had sitting around, or re-gift something that He already owned (although He does own everything). No, this gift required a painful sacrifice on His part, as Jesus (God the Son) willingly and selflessly paid the price that we owed for our sins.
In addition, for those who have chosen to follow Jesus, there is a new kind of freedom. It is the freedom to live the abundant life that Jesus has set out for us. We no longer have to check a bunch of boxes to try and earn our way into Heaven (since we already irreversibly failed at that; hence our need for salvation from Jesus Christ). Instead, we can live our lives without the fear of being separated from God.
This freedom is not unconstrained, though. In gratitude and love for our Savior, followers of Jesus are free to act righteously and do good things. They are not expected to abuse their freedom, and indulge in sin. Similarly, there are times when freedom should be voluntarily limited, in order to show kindness and love to those who might stumble if we exercise our freedom in certain ways.
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
Galatians 5:13 NLT
Can we accept both of these free gifts this year, with both a grown-up understanding of the cost, along with the excitement and faith of a child? I pray that you will not remain in bondage, whether your sins still hold you in slavery, or if you have accepted Jesus’ payment for your sins but still live in bondage to legalism. Be free, today!
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.