Romans 5:6, 15-17
Independence Day is upon us and we celebrate the founding of our great nation. Marked by outdoor parties with mounds of ribs, beans and potato salad we will stuff ourselves immensely and then settle down to watch a sky-show of fireworks. Many will hardly consider the cost of our Declaration of Independence in 1776. It’s was the ever wise Benjamin Franklin who warned his fellow freedom seekers “We must hang together , gentlemen…else, we shall most assuredly hang separately.” Freedom always comes with a steep price.
As followers of Christ, we are bought with a steep price: the blood of Jesus Christ (Acts 20:28). Our freedom came at the cost of his innocent life. The enormity of the freedom found in Christ is clear from Romans 5:6 where Paul declares that we were “helpless” when Christ died for us. We were burdened with a sin debt we could not afford to pay.
The story of the indebted servants of Matthew 18:21ff is appropriately used to teach us the necessity of forgiving others. But notice the debt forgiven the first servant. He owed 10,000 talents which was roughly the wages of a laborer for 15 years! The Bible succinctly says “he did not have the means to repay” (vs. 25). The King had come to settle accounts and all the slave could expect was imprisonment for the rest of his life. How he came to be in that condition we are not told, but he stood without excuse before his king.
Likewise, we are without excuse for our sin debt and have only condemnation to expect – except for the freedom found in Christ!
Paul writes of our freedom and gift of Christ in Romans 5. Notice that we enjoy a free gift of freedom! Free in the sense that we do not, and never could, deserve the gift of salvation through our own efforts. As the slave in Matthew 18, we could struggle and struggle yet never repay the sin debt we have accumulated. Yet Christ gave us the opportunity for salvation. As the slave of Matthew 18 was given the chance to walk free so to we may walk in freedom.
Just this week, Patrick Waller was released from jail in Dallas, Texas after spending 15 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. He is the 19th man released since 2001 because of new DNA evidence. Their freedom comes only after long, expensive and arduous struggles. Ask them if they understand freedom.
Enjoy the 4th. Eat plenty, be thankful for those who have paid and are paying for our national freedom. But along the way, remember what is most important: the freedom in Christ Jesus!