Updated: Sep 14
“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” (Romans 6:21-23)
God is not the King of convenience. He is not Lord of easy street, and He certainly is not the Creator of the cheat sheet and cutting corners. Sister Naomi tried to teach us this in the fourth grade. I listened to her, sitting on my wooden chair while carefully lifting my desktop just enough to grab an M&M my Mom had tucked into my lunch bag. A childhood punctuated with little white lies, sneaking candy, cutting corners doing chores and throwing temper tantrums were slippery slopes into bigger sins, she said.
She taught us a little jingle with the words, “Give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and bury the dead.” She told us to remember this song when we were “near the occasion of sin” and do one of them. She was teaching us the corporal works of mercy as taught by Jesus from His Sermon on the Mount! In retrospect, I learned everything I needed to know to navigate this life into holy waters from her. Thinking about it today, decades later had I simply tucked away my bookbag on the last day of fourth grade and followed her directions, I really didn’t need to have any further formal education. My hardworking dad would have saved a ton of money on tuition and I could have saved myself a whole lot of heartache.
I am not going to list my sins here. The list is long and I am guessing yours is, too. Christ came to save everyone: Even the perfect kids, even the smartest ones, even the kids on death row in prison. Every single one of us. No exceptions. In reaching that point where we’ve had enough of ourselves, we become His “slaves” instead of being slaves to sin, we start to produce the fruit of holiness rather than the gathering the dead thistles of shame and death. In the end, God has promised us everlasting life. The decision is ours to make. Which fruit would we rather have, shame and death or holiness and life? Sister Naomi was right. It was a very slippery slope. I nearly totaled my life careening out of control. Today, I strive to be a servant of God rather than a slave to sin. I am grateful to her.
Your way is so much better, Lord God Almighty. Thank you for the loving teachers you put in my life, thank you for my Dad and Mom who spent so much time and money on me, never giving up on me. It wasn’t wasted after all. Amen