Have you ever known anyone that you thought to be spoiled? Perhaps it was a sibling who seemed to have greater favor than you. Maybe it was a friend with a wealthy family. When I lived in Santa Barbara, California, I saw a lot of people who didn’t grasp how fortunate their situation was. Without a doubt, I know I am guilty of not realizing how well off I have been in my life. If we’re honest with ourselves, most would admit to taking aspects of our lives for granted. We should never take for granted our salvation, mercy, and grace.

How we have obtained things is a primary issue, I see, in the level of taking things for granted. When things are just given to us, they often don’t hold the same value as when we have worked hard to obtain them for ourselves. This is one reason I see people believing that they have to do work to be saved. It just doesn’t feel right that Jesus died for our sins, and it’s often difficult to comprehend his sacrifice on the cross.

Such were some of my thoughts when I read this passage from Acts.

Then the commander said, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship.” “But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.

Acts 22:28 (NIV)

The irony in this exchange is that Paul was about to be flogged and interrogated because the same people who have refused the gift of salvation offered to them by Jesus, are the same people who don’t want this gift to be offered to the Gentiles. Jesus came first to the Jews as a fulfillment of prophecy. The gift of salvation was first offered to them, and because of their refusal, everyone else in the world was also offered this gift. In this exchange between Paul and the commander, we see the commander’s recognition of Paul’s status as one who was born a Roman citizen. 

Paul was, at the least, a second-generation Roman citizen which meant that his family had a stronger claim to citizenship than the commander who had purchased his. However, we see that the commander valued his citizenship highly, “I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship” he tells Paul. I can imagine the commander saving up money for the day when he could purchase his freedom and become a Roman citizen.

In the United States, many people were born citizens, and many people come to the U.S. and become citizens. There is a lengthy process involved in becoming a citizen that those who have to go through it appreciate. Some people take their citizenship in the United States for granted because they were born into it. While those who have strived to become citizens are much like the commander here in Acts. They had to work hard for their citizenship. Some who are citizens might not realize the sacrifices that have been made for those rights and freedoms they take for granted.

As Christians, none of us deserve citizenship in Heaven. It’s only by the grace of God and the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that we are citizens of Heaven.

Unlike Paul, who was born a Roman citizen, none of us were born as citizens of Heaven. When we were reborn as new creations, through our confession and belief in Christ and his works on the cross, we entered freely at no cost to us, into this Kingdom. How then are we to live? Do we trample on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and live in whatever way we desire? That’s what we’re doing if we take advantage of God’s mercy and grace. While it is true that we cannot earn a place in Heaven or earn salvation, there is one thing we can do daily to remind ourselves of the heavy cost that was paid for us.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Romans 12:1 (NIV)

We can worship and praise God in word and in song. However, the deed of worshipping God is how we live our lives and how we conduct ourselves daily. Jesus told us that we needed to take up our cross daily if we were to follow him. Paul tells us in Romans to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23 (NIV)

Jesus gives us the insight that we must deny ourselves to successfully take up our cross to follow him. I think this is a good description of what we need to do. I also think Paul gives us more insight into what denying ourselves looks like. 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

The question I think we should ask ourselves is this. What sort of Christian are we? Are we like the commander who values the high price paid for us? Or are we like the Jews who didn’t understand the value of being born into their privilege, disregarding the price paid for our own salvation at Calvary? 

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.