The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:20-21
With our calendars now topped with the month “December” the crunch is on to get everything ready for Christmas. Most important is probably a list of names for whom you would like to buy gifts…the challenge? What do you get for them? Toys? Clothes? Power tools? Electronics? Combining your budget with a gift that will be appreciated and used by the recipient can often be a challenge. For the person who lives in the upper Midwest and doesn’t have a winter coat that fits, a new heavy winter coat will be much appreciated. The same gift given in South Florida would be looked at with a question, “Why do I need this?” When the gift matches the need, the gift is much more appreciated.
The Gift God gave in Jesus can be the same. For some he is received as a tremendous gift, for others he is dismissed like a winter coat in Florida. What determines our appreciation for the Gift of Jesus? How much do we realize our need?
“The law was added so that the trespass (sin) might increase.” I remember episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard where Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane put up “speed limit” signs in unsuspecting spots just to catch the Duke boys going too fast. Before there wasn’t a law, so there was no offense. Now there was, so the “trespass might increase.”
Sheriff Rosco had nefarious reasons for changing the speed limit; God just wants us to know what pleases or doesn’t please him. If we didn’t have God’s written law, our only guide for right and wrong would be our consciences. This would provide some guidance, but our consciences are good at justifying our actions and making us feel OK, even to the point of feeling like we have done little or nothing wrong. Only when we are faced with the written law of God in the 10 Commandments do we realize we are not as good as we thought we were. The more we realize our sin, the more guilt we carry.
The more guilt we carry, the more, I pray, we desire a remedy for that guilt. The more we see the need for forgiveness, the more we appreciate the Gift that God gave us in Jesus Christ.
This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 5:20-21. The more we are aware of our sin and need for a Savior, “grace increased all the more.” The more we understand our need for a Savior and how “sin leads to death”, the more we can appreciate the Gift of God that brings “eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Yes, the more you look at the law of God, the more aware you are of how sinful you are. BUT the more you realize that truth, the more you are led to cherish and appreciate the Gift of grace in Christ God has given to you this Christmas.
Enjoy time this December pondering the wonderful Gift God gives you this Christmas in his Son Jesus.
Prayer: Thank you, LORD, for giving me the greatest Gift I could ever have, your Son Jesus Christ. In him I know I am forgiven and by your grace will have eternal life, not condemnation. Use me this December to share your Gift with many others. Amen.