Summary: Nothing in life is free. EVER. In Romans 5, Paul tells us of one thing that is entirely free: God's Grace.
How do you introduce yourself to a person you already sort of know? It is an awkward thing, isn’t it? It is weird to start with your name, since they already know it, and you know theirs. On the other hand though, you just cannot easily go into a conversation since you don’t really know the person. So how do you do it? Paul the Apostle had this dilemma as he wrote his letter to the Romans. Paul had never met these Christian congregations before or stayed with them. He had only heard of them, and they of him. He had always planned to visit them but things always seemed to come up. So what does Paul do? He writes a letter!
He writes to these Roman Christians a letter that is about the basics of the Christian faith. The book of Romans focuses on the righteousness of God and on grace. Paul writes them this letter to introduce himself and to layout his teachings before he visits them. He hopes that this will lead to an approval of his message and that it will generate support for a mission trip that he plans to make to Spain.
This summer, we will focus on the book of Romans. As we start in chapter five, we already see one of themes of the letter: grace. Paul describes grace here as a free gift. But if life has taught us anything, it is this: nothing is ever free. We even have a saying that supports this. “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Free things in our lives often have strings attached. Free things in our lives can also be pretty cheap, useless, and lame. Really, nothing in life is free! However, when it comes to God’s grace, Paul debunks these thoughts this morning. He tells us that God’s grace is free!
God’s grace has no strings attached. This is a sharp contrast to our lives. In our lives, when people give us free things, there are often strings or conditions attached. Let’s use the example of a free lunch. When you get a free lunch, it can be for a variety of reasons. It can be done because someone likes or loves you, maybe it is because you are nice to them, and that motivates their actions. It can be done because someone wants to earn your favor or because they want you to do something. We especially see that when people move as they offer something like pizza and adult beverages for those who help. You can get a free lunch in expectation that you will pay for it next time around, or because it settles a debt. In the end, it really isn’t a free lunch. You either earned it, or it is because someone wants you to do something.
Paul tells us that with God’s grace, that is, His undeserved mercy and kindness, there are no strings attached. Listen to what he says in verse six. He writes: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Weak here describes someone who is powerless, or unable to do anything. Ungodly describes a person whose lifestyle is dishonorable and is lived in a way that rejects God’s existence. But it is when we were in this state that Christ died for us. Jesus didn’t do it because of future good works that we would do, or because we had a spark of good in us. We don’t. It was not because He owed us something or so that we would serve Him and pay Him back. He wasn’t bribed or coaxed into doing it. We didn’t deserve Him to do this one bit!