I remember something Zig Ziglar said years ago about exercising. He was trying to lose weight, so he would jog. At first, he told himself he would have to “pay the price” if he wanted change in his life. Each time he went to jog he struggled. Each time he pushed himself out the door by saying that he had to “pay the price.” And each time he hated it.
Then, one day, as he was getting ready to run again, he looked out on a beautiful day and the opportunity to see new scenery and breathe fresh air and he stopped himself from saying his usual phrase. Instead, he began to think of jogging as his opportunity to “enjoy the benefits.” The change he described in his own heart was dramatic. Finally he didn’t have to fight himself any longer. Now he could rest in the joy of what he was about to do.
There is something in this for us. When we think of the Christian life as full of duty and service and penance, it is very easy to get discouraged and fall backward into thinking that didn’t get us anywhere before. As long as we have to “pay the price,” we suffer through our Christian walk.
When we begin to think of what Jesus has already done for us, that He has paid the price, then our lives become a process of enjoying the benefits. That’s what the message of grace is all about.
But the world tells us that we have to pay the price if we expect to get anything out of life. Hard work, sacrifice, playing the game—these are all things the world tells us to expect. “No pain, no gain!” The world cannot see success without struggle.
Except for those who win the lottery, are born into rich families, or discover gold. Right? Well, we are also told that those people aren’t happy. The lottery winners suffer great personal loss. The rich kids are never happy. The “gold diggers” usually are prey for others. This is what the world tells us. Easy success comes at a cost.
So don’t expect something for nothing. There is no free lunch. Right?
But the world doesn’t know Jesus or the love of God. The message of grace is that Jesus paid the price, suffered the pain, endured the cross—all to give us the gift of life. Free!
Imagine that the greatest thing of all, eternal life in relationship with the Lord who loves you, is given as a free gift. He took the initiative when we would not. He gave the sacrifice when we could not. All because He loved us.
The world has no way to understand this. And the world’s perspective has been taught to us. Even the church has taught this, because the world has perverted the message of the church.
One enemy of the message of grace is the world system. It has spawned the church system and even our flesh. But remember what Jesus said:
“Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!”