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How Much Does a Drug Addiction Weigh?

How Much Does a Drug Addiction Weigh?

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. Revelation 22:12

I grew up in an Evangelical tradition, which appropriately taught that we’re saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). We will never be good enough to earn God’s love and we don’t get to heaven because of our amazing behavior. Christ paid the way through his sacrificial death and all we must do is place our faith in him and we’re saved. The problem with grace for me though, was that I saw it as a get-out-of-jail-free card. If I’m forgiven for all time, then I can simply live as I please, enjoying the good life here on Earth. I saw God as a cosmic sucker who allowed me to have it both ways, indulging in my sin now while being rewarded with heaven in the afterlife.

God is not mocked though. A man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7-8). Though I claimed faith in Christ, I followed me, which proved my faith was flimsy at best. At worst, I was simply fooling myself. In the disaster of my drug addiction as I lost my job and nearly lost my family and career, I had to examine my faith. What did my behavior say about my faith?

In today’s passage, John recorded Christ’s promise that he will one day return, brining recompense with him. This Greek word for recompense – misthos – means wages or reward. When Christ returns, we will get the appropriate payment for how we’ve lived while on this Earth. If we’ve lived for ourselves, abandoning God – eternal punishment. If we’ve lived for God, abandoning ourselves – eternal reward. This makes it sound as if we earn salvation by our behavior, which is more than a little frightening. I’ve done a lot of bad stuff in my life. Will my good outweigh my bad on that celestial scale? I’m not confident enough to bet my eternity on it.

Thankfully I don’t have to. Today’s passage must be examined with the rest of the Bible. The whole truth is that we are saved by grace. It’s not what we do. It’s what Christ has already done. All we must do is have faith in him. If our faith is real though, it will necessarily impact how we live. If we claim faith but never change our behavior, our faith is a fantasy. If, however, our thoughts, words, and actions are transformed by our belief, then our faith will be proven real. We can be confident that we’re forgiven for all time . . . if we follow Christ. One day he will return. On that day, we will receive the wages for how we’ve lived today.

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