“What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things
result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the
benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but
the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” (Romans 6:21-23)
God is not the King of convenience. He is not Lord of easy street, and He certainly is not the
Creator of the cheat sheet and cutting corners. Sister Naomi tried to teach us this in the fourth
grade. I listened to her, sitting on my wooden chair while carefully lifting my desktop just
enough to grab an M&M my Mom had tucked into my lunch bag. A childhood punctuated with
little white lies, sneaking candy, cutting corners doing chores and throwing temper tantrums
were slippery slopes into bigger sins, she said.
She taught us a little jingle with the words, “Give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothe
the naked, visit the imprisoned, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and bury the dead.” She told
us to remember this song when we were “near the occasion of sin” and do one of them. She was
teaching us the corporal works of mercy as taught by Jesus from His Sermon on the Mount! In
retrospect, I learned everything I needed to know to navigate this life into holy waters from her.
Thinking about it today, decades later had I simply tucked away my bookbag on the last day of
fourth grade and followed her directions, I really didn’t need to have any further formal
education. My hardworking dad would have saved a ton of money on tuition and I could have
saved myself a whole lot of heartache.
I am not going to list my sins here. The list is long and I am guessing yours is, too. Christ came
to save everyone: Even the perfect kids, even the smartest ones, even the kids on death row in
prison. Every single one of us. No exceptions. In reaching that point where we’ve had enough of
ourselves, we become His “slaves” instead of being slaves to sin, we start to produce the fruit of
holiness rather than the gathering the dead thistles of shame and death. In the end, God has
promised us everlasting life. The decision is ours to make. Which fruit would we rather have,
shame and death or holiness and life? Sister Naomi was right. It was a very slippery slope. I
nearly totaled my life careening out of control. Today, I strive to be a servant of God rather than
a slave to sin. I am grateful to her.
Your way is so much better, Lord God Almighty. Thank you for the loving teachers you put in
my life, thank you for my Dad and Mom who spent so much time and money on me, never
giving up on me. It wasn’t wasted after all. Amen