For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23
Perhaps no other verse so clearly contrasts the difference between all of my efforts and the free gift of God than the simple verse above.
Every couple of weeks I receive a paycheck from my employer. That is my reward for my efforts in the workplace. These are my wages, but there are also wages for the sin in my life. You might call them consequences.
Sin has immediate consequences in some instances, but in others it take a bit longer to see the negative result. Eventually, all my sin leads to one place – death. Paul is speaking of the spiritual death experienced by those who reject God.
I’ve referred to this quote before, but it is always fitting in these instances –
We earn wages, but then there is the “free gift of God.” And in that phrase, we find the heart of the Gospel. It is God’s gift. We can’t and don’t earn God’s gift. Paul described it a bit more in his letter to the Ephesians.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.Ephesians 2:8-9