My first real job for which I actually got paid was a paper route. I delivered newspapers every afternoon and made collections once a week. Then I paid the paper company, and what was left over was my wages – it was how much I got paid for what I did.
We all look forward to payday. That is when we get our wages for what we have done. As I am writing this devotional, today is payday for me. So, later on today, I will pay my bills and see if there is anything left over. Hey – wouldn’t that be nice!
Well, our word for today is “wages,” and the idea of wages is: that is what you get for what you did. You earned it – you get it. Now that is also the idea in Roman 6:23, which says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That verse is saying that there are wages associated with sin. That is what you did – so that is what you get. You did the sin – and death is your wages for that.
The word “wages” is a word that means “pay or compensation.” But it actually comes from the word for “fish.” You see, in the ancient Greek world a soldier would be given rations when he want to battle, and his rations were usually in the form of fish. So the word for fish (opsarion) became the word for wages – (opsōnia).
I remember stories my dad would tell about his first pastorate in rural New York. The church could not afford to pay him much, so people would give him chickens and eggs and produce and baked goods. It was their way to help him make ends meet – and so those things were part of his wages. The point here is that wages did not always mean money. It could mean other things that were compensations for what you did.
So that is the idea behind the wages of sin. The wages of sin is death – that is what you get.
Now you know the real meaning of the word.
Remember, we have all sinned – so we are all in trouble here. That is why each of us needs Jesus as our Savior.