Titus 3:3-5a – “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations website, “The Rewards For Justice Program, United States Department of State, is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to the apprehension or conviction of Usama Bin Laden. An additional $2 million is being offered through a program developed and funded by the Airline Pilots Association and the Air Transport Association.” (http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/fugitives/laden.htm) The reward will only come after Bin Laden has been captured – that is, it requires action.
This illustration was used for one reason: To remind believers that God has given a us a gift although we simply have not earned it. Truthfully, God owes us nothing – not life, not riches, not perfect health, not Heaven. Too often, we adopt an “I deserve this” attitude where our walk becomes more about “what can God do for me?” than “what can I do for God?” When you purposely lose sight of what you have done and focus on what He has done, the glory of mercy is seen.
Mercy is defined as “leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person or agency charged with administering justice” (WordNet (r) 2.0, August 2003). Since our salvation was gifted without action, how much more should we exhibit a heart of thankfulness? Despite the foolishness, disobedience, deceit and enslavement of our past, Christ still died for us (see Romans 5:8). An actionless reward comes as a gift. Think back to your last birthday…do you think people gave you gifts because you managed to live another year? No! They gifted you because of love. Their sacrafice resulted in your benefit, but only when you accept it. In the same way, Jesus offered himself as a living sacrafice. Have you accepted His gift?
“He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5b-7)