How much would you be willing to pay to get rid of a debilitating addiction? A couple of friends, Paul and William, thought they would try to overcome their respective addictions by keeping themselves accountable to each other. Paul struggled with profanity, and William battled smoking. The two men agreed to meet every week at church, putting $5 in the offering plate for each time they slipped up.

The first time the men met in church, Paul wrote out a check for $100 and stuck it in the offering plate, confessing that he had yielded to temptation twenty times over the past week. Things went even worse the next week, and Paul had to write a check for $250.

Paul couldn’t continue like this much longer. He had already spent $350, and he wasn’t making any progress in fighting his addiction. He told William he was ready to give up; but William encouraged Paul to keep at it, even offering to cover Paul’s expenses for the next week.

At their next meeting, Paul only owed $15. He couldn’t bear to abuse his friend’s kindness. Paul’s awareness of the impact of his actions on William eventually gave him the incentive he needed to quit using profanity altogether.

That’s what grace does. Instead of giving us a license to do whatever we want, grace shows us the great price Christ had to pay for our sins so that we don’t live in sin anymore. We can’t pay for change — but we can live in light of the payment that’s already been made.

Maybe you’ve tried everything to overcome your personal stronghold — rehab, an addictions’ recovery program, church counsel, or even a Christian psychologist — but nothing has helped. The solution isn’t found in your wallet; it’s found in Christ. Study and pray over His Word, and He will change you into His image.

Not only does understanding the gospel of the grace of God provide a proper motive for us to share our faith, it also gives us the proper motive and means to live the Christian life effectively. — David Havard

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder