Read Romans 14:7—8
For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
If you hang around Christians long enough, eventually you will hear someone say something like, “Jesus died for you, so the least you can do is live for him.” I get the sentiment of that statement, but I wrestle with because it sounds more like requirement than grace. We hear and proclaim salvation as a gift given freely by God, yet a statement like that seems to imply that we had better get to work if we want to keep it. I’m pretty sure that’s not right. So what does it mean to live for the Lord? Is there a list of tasks and obligations or duties we have to complete? Or is there just some suggestions of desired behaviors and activities that might help us get the max benefit out of our gift? What does it mean to live for God and is it contrary to grace for God to have any expectation for how we live and/or what we do?
Here’s something to consider. If we could somehow contribute to our salvation, then God would have no right to ask anything of us. If we paid for it ourselves, then it would be our right to do with it what we please. But the thing is, we did not pay for our own salvation. We could not have paid for it even if we wanted to. The cost was beyond our means, so Jesus willingly (not begrudgingly) paid it for us. Grace. This also means that salvation belongs to God (Revelation 7:10), not us. That means God can (and does) ask us to live differently. This isn’t so we can try to pay Jesus back for what he’s done on our behalf, it is so God can extend his grace through us and advance his Kingdom — a place where love rules and reigns. Sounds like a place I want to live. Our salvation means we no longer live for ourselves, we live for God, so God can ask us to do anything he wants. That might sound a little frightening if we know nothing of the character of God. We might worry that God is going to send us off on some crazy mission on a whim or to do outlandish things so he can get a chuckle. Fortunately, God will never ask us to do anything outside of his character. He simply wants to live as he lives. God is loving, compassionate, merciful, etc. He wants us to be the same, so by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in us, God expresses himself through us in these ways. We learn to live as God lives and love as God loves. Sometimes, yes that leads us to unexpected places and to unexpected things, but God never leads us anywhere apart from who God is. We not only live for the Lord, we live in the Lord and nothing can separate us (Romans 8:38-39).
How might God want to live out his salvation in and through me today? To whom can I extend God’s hand of love and mercy and grace?