“…The free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23b (NLT)
When I picture the scene of the crucifixion and the 2 criminals who were crucified with Christ, I am struck by the immensity of the grace of God. Let me explain. Take a moment to read Luke 23:32-43. Try to imagine yourself there: the crowd is hurling insults at Christ, mocking Him, sneering at Him to save Himself, humiliating Him by dividing His clothes. One of the criminals even adds to the jeering of the crowd by mocking Jesus, but what the other criminal says is deeply powerful. He says, “’We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man [Jesus] has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’” (Luke 23:41,42). By this man’s simple acknowledgment, Jesus responded to him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Wow. This criminal called on the name of Jesus at the very end of his life! Within hours and maybe only minutes from his own death, this man, known to us only as a criminal, made the life-changing decision to acknowledge the Lordship of Christ. And in turn, he received the free gift of God of eternal life! Did you catch that: FREE!? He had no time for good works or performance before he died. God’s gift of life for him and for us is completely and absolutely free (Ephesians 2:8-9)!
Does anyone else feel a tremendous amount of freedom in that? God is not tallying up our good behavior, judging our performance as a mom or wife, or even marking us down when we fail. He loves us absolutely and completely, no strings attached. When I mess up, which, as recently as earlier today, He forgives me, He lavishes His love on me, and I am renewed!
My youngest child is 3, and she is at a particularly cute age. Sometimes I feel I could just hug her and kiss her all day long. And while she has so many adorable moments, she has a great many moments of throwing food across the table or screaming over everything or tantrums that make me feel crazy. However, nothing she does makes me stop loving her. Even when she has her difficult moments, I still immediately hug her and kiss her and tell her how much I love her. I feel this intensity of love for her and for each of my children, and yet God’s love for His children (us) is even greater!
God’s model to us is to love unconditionally. Just as Christ died for the criminal on the cross, He died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). We can love our children with that same grace and unconditional love that will forever change their hearts. I encourage you, dear mom, come to Jesus. In a prayer as simple as “Jesus, You are Lord!”, He takes hold of you, forgives you, and invites you to live an abundant, eternal life, starting now (see Romans 10:9).
Elizabeth and the Help Club for Moms Team