The free gift of God ...
thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. ... the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 6:17-19,23 NLT
The imagery of slavery is such a stark one. In my thinking the word encompasses two aspects - ownership and servitude. That first aspect speaks to our identity. If sin is our master then we are helpless to serve anything else. And we are in a sorry state if we find ourselves serving our bad habits and giving priority to them. Such is the way that so many find themselves in these days. These are desperate, hopeless and in need of the good news of Jesus Christ.
In contrast to this message of bondage and slavery Paul speaks of freedom and a free gift. He teaches us that a heart transformed is one that embraces a different kind of slavery - one with different ownership and servitude. The former slavery embodied a coerced submission to a harsh taskmaster while the latter a voluntary, joyful and thankful attitude toward a loving Gift Giver. This gift is free for the asking. All that is required is a heart-filled yes to Jesus.
Lord, help us to remember that we are free people because you gave your life for our freedom.