There is a process described in the bible about life and death. What is remarkable about it is that life is free but death is earned. It seems at face value that to receive a free life but have to work for death is rather strange. Surely it would make more sense if worked hard and at the end of our labours earn life as a reward rather than death? In matters of life and death...life is much better and surely a more appropriate reward for hard work. But that's not the way life and death works as you will see.
Do you like to receive gifts? I know I do and I'll bet you do too. Especially those times you receive a free gift when there is no special occasion. At those times it's an unexpected gift without any strings attached, and often these are the best gifts because they are not expected.
It's different when you go out and buy something for yourself. You may enjoy it immensely, but it's not the same as getting a free gift for nothing. You have to work and slave away at a job to earn the money to afford to buy yourself that gift. But a free gift given by someone else is a surprise and a source of joy. And what's more they are the ones who have had to work and pay for the gift.
There is a spiritual lesson you can take away from these situations that is shown in the Bible and it concerns Christian freedom and the free gift of life.
Let me ask you this question: why do people die? Answer: because they earn death!
Yes that's right they earn death in the same way as we go to work to do a job and earn a wage. You do something and you are paid for it. You may recall the often quoted verse in Romans 6:23 that says, "For the wages of sin is death." However, many times when people quote this verse they leave off the rest of it. If you read it in full it says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the Free Gift from God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Now don't you think that this is an incredible situation! "The wages of sin is death." You actually earn the right to die...as a wage! But you receive eternal life as a free gift from God. You don't have to work for it and you can't take it as it can only be given and received as a free gift. Life is free but death is earned. You work your whole life to earn something you don't want, but can get something you do want without working. Incredible!
Other scriptures back this up saying, "...for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap," (Galatians 6:7) and, "...since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23). This verse also goes on in vs. 24 to say, "they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus."
Now of course when you receive a gift, someone has to pay for it as mentioned above. The good news is that the free gift of eternal life was paid for through the death of Jesus Christ. The scripture shows that, "You were bought with a price..." (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23). Jesus paid the price so that we could have life into eternity as a free gift from God.
And there are other scriptures you will find that support the position that it is better to receive a free gift than to work. Consider the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. You may recall that Jesus was in their house teaching his disciples, and while Mary sat at his feet listening, Martha was distracted serving the people who were guests in her house. Human wisdom would suggest that Martha was doing the right thing and that her sister Mary was being lazy. And we see that Martha felt hard done by, so she complained to Jesus saying, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." Martha was hard at work serving but she did not get the response from Jesus she was expecting. He said, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."
You know sometimes it is more important for you to be a Mary than to be a Martha. Sometimes you have to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what he has to say rather than rushing about trying to serve others. Consider this question for a moment, if you are always serving others, when do you get fed? It is important that you are fed so you have the strength to feed others.
But you may say that it is selfish not to serve others. Is it not more important that you obtain salvation and life so that you will be in a position to help others? Mary sat at the Lord's feet to learn so that she could obtain life. How much do you suppose Martha learned while she was busy making cups of tea, baking scones, doing the dishes, serving the guests and so on? I think you will agree that with all those distractions she would have taken in very little, if any, of the Lord's message that day.
And likewise the message for us is that to receive life we do not have to work for it. All we have to do is to sit at the Lord's feet to listen and receive the free gift he readily gives to those who do so.
One of my favourite scriptures on this point is in Isaiah 30:15-17 which says:
"For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel' "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength." And you would not, but you said, "No! We will speed upon horses," therefore you shall speed away; and, "We will ride upon swift steeds," therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill."
The prophet here is telling you that your salvation is based on returning and resting with the Lord. You are not saved by racing off in a hive of activity and indeed if you do take that path, you actually race away from the Lord and you will end up alone like a flag on a hill. Trust in the Lord and quietly listen to him and that will be your strength. If you are always busy working, even trying to do good things like serving others, you cannot effectively listen to what the Lord has to say.
Even Jesus made time to be alone to go onto the mountain to pray, seek guidance and listen to his Father. He was showing that there is a need for a balance when we learn and rest so we can receive the free gift of life and then we will be ready to serve others.
So I ask you then, are you busily working to earn death, or instead are you listening to what the Lord has to say and preparing to receive the free gift of life into eternity from him?
I hope that you found something here to help you or add to your own knowledge. If you have any questions, then please feel free to contact me.