That got you attention, didn't it? Who doesn't love free stuff? I love free stuff, especially books. I enter contests to win free books. I follow several "resource" pages on facebook in order to get free books for my Kindle. In fact, 99.5 of the 700+ books on my Kindle were free! I love free.
But here's the thing. Free stuff isn't really free is it? I mean, when a publisher makes a new book free to download as a promotional thing, or whatever, it doesn't cost me personally to download it. But it isn't really free in the sense that it cost no one anything. The writer has a lot of time and effort and maybe even money invested. The publisher may have some tied up in it as well, but they offer the free download in hopes that you will buy some other stuff. The point is, it cost someone something to produce that "free" item.
Likewise, when I win the free books (which I actually have once or twice), it's not that the books magically appear out of nowhere. Again, the writer and publisher have time and money invested in producing that book, the person running the giveaway pays postage in order for me to receive them. It cost someone something in order for me to get if for "free."
Now, we can apply that to politics and really start an argument. The government is always offering this or that "free" program. Free lunches and free tuition and free housing and free this or that. But it's not free, is it? You and I, the average tax payer, we pay for that "free" stuff. That's a frustration for lots and lots of folks as they watch others take advantage of those things, often even illegally, that our government "hands out." We know we worked hard to earn a paycheck, and the government took part of that hard earned money, and they pass it out (often willy nilly) to folks who may or may not truly need the "assistance." The point is, nothing is free. Someone paid for it.
Similarly, our church has a benevolent ministry in which we help folks in the community who are in need. Help with a light bill, or a gas bill, or some groceries. Sure those folks get it for free. But it came at the expense of the pocket books of some very generous folks in our church. We're glad to do it. But it can be frustrating when folks don't appreciate it, or act like we "owe" it to them. Because it does cost someone something.
I really didn't want to just make this about politics. What I eventually want to get around to is the theological implications of this. We talk often of free grace; the free gift of salvation. And it is. It doesn't cost us a thing. Salvation is the gift of God; His grace is free to those whom He chooses to give it. But we need to remember that this free gift did indeed cost someone something.
Salvation is not God looking the other way and just ignoring our sin. Grace is not God saying "Aw shucks, I guess sin isn't that big of a deal after all, let's just forget it." The truth is, our sin demands justice. Our sin demands a price be paid. Because God is pure and holy and true and righteous and just, He absolutely must punish sin. It can't be ignored. It can't be overlooked. To do so would violate the very nature and character of God. However...
What a great word: however... However, God in His amazing mercy, chose to send His perfect Son to live and die in our place, to take upon Himself the punishment our sin deserves. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." A real transaction took place on the cross of Calvary. Your sin was heaped on the perfect Son of God, and the righteousness of the perfect Son of God was imputed to you. Wow! What a price God pays for us to receive His free grace.
Here's the thing. All that annoyance we might feel about others taking advantage of free stuff, acting like we're owed something for nothing, not appreciating a free gift when given...magnify that to infinity and imagine what God must think when we act like our salvation is a freebie we can take or leave, or something we're owed, or something we don't truly appreciate. God paid a price higher than we can even imagine in order to give us this free gift. It most certainly cost Someone something very valuable indeed.
So please, if you haven't, consider God's free gift of salvation in Christ. It truly is free. You don't deserve it, and you certainly can't earn it, but God has paid the price in Jesus. Receive His offer of free grace. But please, never forget the price that was paid.
Those who know this gift already, please, don't take it for granted, don't take it lightly. Thank God daily for the amazing gift that it is. Rejoice in His grace, revel in the free nature of it, jump up and down at the riches of His infinite Grace. But please, please, never forget that this glorious gift cost Someone something precious. And thank Him for that, too.