When France’s ministry of health realized that 17.8 percent of French women smoked while pregnant, they came up with a plan. For a trial period of thirty-six months, seventeen French hospitals paid women up to 300 euros to stop smoking during their pregnancies. Of the 612 participants, 22.5 percent of the women gave up their cigarettes.
The ministry of health was interested in the health of babies, but also wanted to see whether financial incentives would help women quit addictions. They obviously did!
Paul told the Galatians that they had something more powerful than financial motivation to curb an old “habit”—they had the very power of Christ. Since attempting to gain acceptance with God through the law would only lead to condemnation (Galatians 2:19), their only hope for salvation and daily freedom was union with Jesus in His death and resurrection (Galatians 2:20).
Christ wasn’t a sinner or a criminal, but in taking on the sins of humanity, He died like one. When Paul placed his faith in the crucified Jesus, his sinful desires were crucified as well. His selfish heart came to a decisive end, and his personal interests no longer controlled his life. Consequently, Jesus gave him a new heart and a new life fully empowered by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit: “Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Rewards can motivate us to do better, but willpower alone will fail to consistently change lives. Believers have something more powerful—the manifestation of God’s love through the cross of Jesus. When we yield to the power of the cross and exercise daily faith in the Son of God, the indwelling Spirit releases His power—resurrection power that enthrones Christ in our lives.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Isaiah 53:1-12
Read Romans 6:14 and consider why we no longer live under the requirements of the law.
How will you yield to the power of the cross? How will you exercise daily faith this week? What do you need to surrender to Jesus?