Greetings all, here is your e-votional for the week…
“What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.”-Romans 4: 1-5
For my Lenten discipline in 2017 I am reading the Book of Romans. All of it. Everyday. That is a lot of Romans. Obviously Lent is still in its infancy so I’ve only done this a few times so far, and it is an interesting process. If you’ve never spent much time with Romans, the above verses are emblematic of the tone. It is a wordy, heavy, dense epistle. It is also incredibly powerful. In the first several chapters of Romans, Paul establishes a truth which is central to his theology; that we are all sinners. He also argues that “the law” orients us not toward God’s grace, but instead toward sin. This argument is vital to his belief that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, not be what we “do.”
This brings us to the above passage. Abraham is, of course, the father of Judaism, but Paul was concerned with elucidating something important about Abraham. What made him God’s chosen human, the father of God’s people, was not the physical act of circumcision, but rather his belief. Abraham believed in the promises of God, and those promises were carried through history by God’s fidelity. Abraham didn’t do anything to earn God’s promises, rather he believed. This is important for us. We don’t earn God’s grace. It is not something we are due for having been such good people. Rather, we believe the promises of God through Jesus Christ, and through the grace of Jesus Chris we are reconciled to God. Got that?
It is so important that we understand that whatever God gives us is given not because it is due to us, or because we deserve it. Rather what we have been given is all about God and God’s free choice to love us through Jesus Christ. We respond to this truth through faith. The life of faith can be a complicated thing, but if we dilute Romans to its core, we find an elegant truth. God loves us, and we respond by loving God back. That is something to celebrate this Lenten season as we journey to Easter Sunday.
Prayer: Holy God, we thank you for the love you have shown us. Help us this day to be people of righteousness that we may enjoy your love and grace. Guide us in our lives, that we may serve you and love your people. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.