Monday 8 March, 2021

Romans 4:1-12

4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” 9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

Imagine you receive a generous gift, totally unexpected but generously given. But you say, “oh this is good but I can think of something better”!

This passage underlines the earlier teaching of Paul about righteousness by faith. Paul compares a gift with wages, and explains the gift of being counted righteous comes to us because we trust in God for salvation, through Jesus’ death. Just like he gave Abraham, God has given us a beautiful gift – he declares us righteous, he declares us redeemed and our relationship with him restored.

We receive this gift through faith alone, not by what we ourselves bring or have achieved (eg., works see Chapter 3 v 28.) We accept this gift of righteousness, rather than trying to add to it or doing it “better” so we can take the credit. I can’t do “better” than the salvation God has provided through Jesus. It is his generous gift I have not earned or deserved.

Funny though isn’t it. So often I want to add to what he has given, as if it’s not enough. A bit like Abraham. Maybe this stems from thinking God’s gift is not enough, or I’ll feel more deserving if I add to it by what I do, or sacrifice, or deny myself. It’s a trap which cheapens what Jesus has done to save us.

Dear Lord Jesus, please send your Holy Spirit to show me where I am substituting the Father’s beautiful gift of righteousness with my own efforts. I need you now. You are all I need. Amen.

Written by Claire Moore

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