One of the most powerful verses God has been impressing upon my heart lately is Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We tend to view life through the lens of entitlement. Whether we care to admit it or even recognize it, our sinful nature reveals the thought we believe we deserve particular things. When we do not get our way, we respond in the same manner as the Israelites did in Numbers 11:1. They complained and grumbled. They had a distorted view of what God was doing and what they thought they deserved. Yet, what this verse from Romans teaches us is the one thing we truly deserve is death. What we are entitled to is physical and spiritual death because we have sinned. As sinners, we face eternal separation from God and have brought the wrath of God upon ourselves. Simply put, the payment we deserve is death.
Thanks be to God, though, Romans 6:23 does not end there. God, in His grace, extends mercy through the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. If we deserve eternal death, then the very thing we do not deserve is eternal life. But because of the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we can have eternal life in Christ. We are saved by the grace of God alone through faith in Christ alone. Those who understand this truth respond in repentance of sins and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They realize they are undeserving of God’s grace and that they cannot be saved by their own good works. They recognize the mercy of God withholds what they deserve and the grace of God extends what they don’t deserve. Life in Christ is a free gift.
This biblical framework of understanding our salvation trickles down into our attitude toward God and toward life. Biblical counselor Paul Tripp explains, “If you tell yourself ‘I deserved that’ you won’t be grateful. Thanksgiving results when you remind yourself that every gift comes freely by grace.” Christians should be a people marked by gratitude, not grumbling. This Thanksgiving, meditate on the gospel. Remember salvation is not something earned, but salvation is a gift. We do not deserve it, but we have been entrusted with it. When you understand it is by God’s grace you have been saved, then you will respond with thankfulness and an attitude of gratitude. My prayer for you is your life would be marked by gratitude toward God for the grace of God.