It is 2003, and my ten year old husband and his little brother had a school bus to run.
There was only one thing that kept the two from enjoying school to its fullest extent: their lunch money wouldn’t afford them a daily cinnamon bun. There was no room in the budget of this average ten and six year old.
There seemed only one solution to Austin, the oldest of the two. Go into business.
They collected all their toy cars they felt they had outgrown, put them in a home-depot toy brief case, and sold them out of the back of the school bus. They chose something to give up in order to get what they really wanted in return. They gained value working for something they esteemed as more important.
Working for what you want and need is completely ingrained into our culture. In this individualistic society, it is assumed that every person is for him/herself. You don’t get things you don’t work for. Most of us would applaud my husband and his brother for working toward a few weeks filled with cinnamon buns rather than simply asking for the money from their parents. We value work. We assume work is the only way. In every part of our life.
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And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
(Romans 4:5–8 ESV)
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Forget Not Grace.
The thing about living in a world centered around work is that we can sometimes forget about grace when it comes to our eternity.
At a job, we might consider grace as not getting something that we deserve. As in not getting written up for being late.
That’s mercy though. Grace is getting something we don’t deserve. As in you are given a promotion even though you showed up late every day.
This is unheard of. It is unfair. It is against everything we know. It is outside of what this world deems realistic.
It is exactly what Jesus has done for us.
He has made it to where we do not have to work for our salvation–because we cannot do enough work to achieve it. Think about it, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and [our] iniquities have made a separation between [us] and [our] God, and [our] sins have hidden his face from [us] so that he does not hear (Romans 3:23 & Isaiah 59:2).
We cannot do anything to make us “unsinful.” We have already sinned. We have already fallen short. We are already separated.
The beauty of this passage is that we are not and cannot be righteous on our own. We cannot stand before this holy, perfect God in and of ourselves. Our work will always result in thinking of ourselves only. He has to be the one to impute his righteousness upon us. When He looks at us, He has to see something perfect and holy and right.
So how? How can we get this?
We get it through God’s gift of grace. He paid the price that sin demands. All we have to do is place our faith in that gift. Trust that He is all who can save us.
Grace Grants Value.
Okay so if our salvation has nothing to do with our own “goodness”, wouldn’t God be disappointed in us? We couldn’t do it ourselves, so He had to come down. He had to endure pain that He didn’t deserve.
You’re right. He has every right to hate us because of our rejection of Him. He has every right to turn away and let us to our own destruction, and worse, the Devil’s destruction. But He doesn’t.
The passage above does not simply say, “saved are those whose sins are forgiven,” but rather, it says, “Blessed are those…”
In the Greek, the word blessed looks like this: μακάριος
It describes someone who is living under God’s favor, gets to enjoy His benefits, and is Biblically associated with the act of faith–not the actions in which we engage.
You see, Jesus, the Son of God who paid the price, is God the Father’s beloved. They are One together. They created the world together. They are of the same Spirit completely.
His grace through Jesus’s blood allows us to stand before God and not be seen by our unrighteousness, but rather, by Jesus’s righteousness–His complete rightness and perfection. This grace that He gives us gives is the most value we could possibly have in the eyes of God. It gives us the image of His son.
So what does this mean?
All this talk about grace and righteousness and the ambiguity of our own work can be confusing when it comes to our days in and days out. But let me tell you, oh Christian, that God’s grace and righteousness are the only things that should greatly determine those days. They are the sole factors that define us. They drive us and mold us.
We live in a world where work is valued–and it should be. We should be hard workers in everything we do. But we should recognize that that hard work is not what gets us the favor of God. That hard work can only be validated because of who we are in Christ.
You did not do anything to earn your salvation.
I don’t do anything that earns my salvation.
My neighbor cannot sin so much that God’s grace is insufficient.
Your past cannot define your future in Christ if you have placed your faith in God’s gift of grace.
When His righteousness covers us, nothing can uncover us from His protection.
Will we mess up? Yes. But His righteousness will convict us. Will we act in opposition of His design? Yes. But His righteousness will steer us back to His arms.
Do not become so fixated on your sin or someone else’s that you lose sight of the vast ocean of grace Jesus bled for us.
Do not sell yourself to what the world tells you is “goodness” that you forget to spend your time telling about God’s goodness.
Do not spend your life selling toy cars only to achieve satisfaction that will have faded after lunch.
Your value is found in Jesus. Your righteousness is found on a cross. Your eternity was determined by the overcoming of a grave.
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To continue going through Romans with us, read the following verses this week.
Romans Series Reading Plan:
Monday: Romans 3:1-8
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