For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
How much do you earn? Wages are compensation for the work you have done. Paul here in Romans is hinting that sin is the opposite of work. The compensation for sin is, likewise, the opposite of something profitable. Eternal life is the free gift of God – it is not a compensation. Does it make sense that you cannot accept a free gift if you have collected the wages of sin… and you’re dead?
In another letter, I talked about slaves. A slave is commonly understood to be someone who is forced to work without compensation. But, technically, this is not true. A slave’s compensation is food, shelter, clothing, protection… Of course, those “compensations” are generally in such meager and minimal amounts that there is no perception of a wage. There is never any hint of abundance or even adequacy.
However, this letter is entitled “Currency.” In free societies, the wages of work is generally currency. Currency, as we know it, is understood as “money.” But the word has the same root as the “current” of a river – the condition of flowing, from the Latin “currere” which means “to run.” We work for currency, but we don’t need currency. All we really need is food, clothing, shelter, air, and water. There is another thing that we need that money cannot buy – that is love. Please hold on to that thought. Currency is a medium that allows the flow of goods and services in a society. And since we need some of those goods and services, currency is a way to get them. Certainly, we can bypass currency and barter one thing for another. I have seen people standing on the street holding a sign that says “will work for food.” With no job to earn currency, these people are hoping to trade a service for a meal.
“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” (John 6:27)
The rest of chapter 6 of John talks a lot about food, true food that comes from God. Here in verse 27, Messiah tells us that we should work for the wages that will last only until we are granted that gift of God that Paul told us about in Romans above – eternal life. But, again I will point out, wages are not necessarily currency.
In this society, we tend to measure virtually everything in terms of, or with respect to, money. In accounting, there is a concept or term called “intangible assets.” This concept assigns a monetary value to something that inherently does not have one. Things like employee morale, customer satisfaction, and advertising effectiveness are given a dollar value. The practice makes sense with respect to making financial decisions. Other terms give similar benefit to financial planning like “return on investment,” and “cost benefit analysis.” But, this monetary lens through which we view our world, where everything is monetized to some extent, comes from and leads to the same erroneous perspective where money is king. Such a perspective gives rise to the blasphemous phrase “the almighty dollar.” Sadly, this phrase does add to an accurate description of our society. Everything seems to revolve around money. We know that the dollar is not “almighty,” but we tend to give it enormous weight and attention. God knew what He was doing when he peppered the scriptures with warnings and instructions about the dangers that money has. Here’s one:
“If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.“
(1 Timothy 6:8-11)
That list overlaps a bit with the list of the fruit of the Spirit. Could it be that the food we should work for that endures to eternal life is that fruit of the Spirit?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
So, we can work for food that leads to eternal life – and get the Godly things we need. But what about Godly currency? Is there anything that we might acquire or possess and give or distribute that facilitates the flow of Godly “goods and services?” Is that even a thing? Is the analogy breaking down here?
I don’t believe we get “paid” for doing God’s work, but, there is a compensation for the work we do: the food that does not perish. I believe that there is also a currency that God distributes to and collects from His children. The currency is not used as wages to pay for the work we do, but it does flow. It is separate from compensation.
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go. (Isaiah 48:17)
Messiah did tell us that we would always have the poor. There is no question that some will be wealthy and some will be poor, but this is only relative to the physical aspect of life. And I don’t think this disparity between wealthy and poor was intended from the beginning. God’s creation is one of abundance. Physical abundance is what God originally intended for his children to experience and enjoy. The Garden of Eden was a place of rich abundance. Even today, if we followed His ways, that abundance would manifest itself for us to enjoy once again.
O fear the LORD, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing. (Psalms 34:9-10)
And, there is a better part… Spiritual abundance is also available to us
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
The reason we get so much from Him is because of His great love for us. And, we know the greatest commandment is that we love Him and each other. (Matthew 22:36) And in 1John 3:16 we see “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” God’s love is the medium that allows for all good things to flow. The following scripture brings out the concept of Godly currency.
“…and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)
This passage sounds like a transaction to me! There is an exchange going on here – an exchange of love that mutually benefits both recipients. How does the Lord cause you to increase in love for all people? By loving you. How does He establish your heart blameless? By loving you. How do we show our love for God? By loving Him, and all other people. There is a current of love that God causes to flow. Love is the currency that we should be measuring all things by.
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)
Peace to you and glory to God!