“So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.”
Romans 4:16-17 NLT
Paul couldn’t be clearer. His unequivocal statement was that all who have faith in God will receive, as a free gift, God’s promise. And it didn’t matter whether or not those reading his letter were trying to “live according to the Law of Moses”. They just needed to “have faith like Abraham’s”. We all love a free gift, don’t we? The trouble is that in our materialistic society we associate gifts with a physical item, such as a camera or a watch. A gadget or an item of clothing. But in the Kingdom of God, free gifts are spiritual. Gifts like eternal life, joy and peace. In 2 Peter 1:4-5a we read, “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises …”
Peter wrote that with God’s promises we can live a life free of sin. Free of being corrupted by the world around us. And by doing so we enjoy a share in God Himself. But God’s Spirit can’t live within us if we are riddled by sin. Peter wrote that these free gifts, God’s promises, are precious. They are more valuable than any worldly gift that comes our way. There are many stories about rich and powerful men and women who lack the peace of mind to be able to enjoy what they have. Their personal lives are a mess, and their wealth has lost its shine. Some years ago I visited a house occupied by a couple who had received a modest lottery win. But their life had deteriorated because of it; they had lapsed in drunkenness and ill health. In the end, money had bought them anything except happiness.
In Ecclesiastes 2, the philosopher, probably Solomon, muses over the frustrations of chasing pleasure in a worldly environment. He starts off the chapter by writing, “I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. So I said, “Laughter is silly. What good does it do to seek pleasure?”” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2). Solomon was a rich king, with many wives and much in the way of possessions, but here he is mourning that true peace of mind was eluding him. In verse 8 he concludes, “… I had everything a man could desire!” But it wasn’t enough. In Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 he wrote, “Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labours. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere“. Perhaps possessions had introduced him to depression.
But in the Kingdom of God, different principles come into play. Psalm 1:1-2, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night“. At first sight, meditating on the “law of the Lord” day and night would seem to be a bit of a trial. But meditation encompasses far more than sitting in a corner with a scroll containing the ten commandments. It is a lifestyle in which God’s principles become the very centre of who we are. And in the process, God’s presence within us grows more and more. And, financially, it hasn’t cost us anything. It’s all about God and His free gifts. And the benefits keep on coming, throughout this life and into eternity. How awesome is that?
Dear Father God. We are so grateful for the gifts You have so freely given us. And keep on giving us day by day. Please help us to put them to good use. In Jesus’ name. Amen.