Sunday, September 16, 2018
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
So much in these verses makes me pause to consider: I do not wish to be ashamed of the gospel even though in these days faith separates me from many who profess a different faith or no faith at all. I want to respect their perspective while at the same time not cowing under to pressure to hide my faith under the proverbial basket.
I will trust in the power of God who has brought me salvation in Jesus Christ. God offers salvation to every person who believes in him; to God it doesn’t matter whatever is your family background or history or any other barrier we might think prevents us from being offered this gift. After all, Paul himself stood by, allowing Stephen to be stoned to death for his faith in Christ.
Paul came to realize by faith that what really matters is God’s righteousness, not ours. God offers us a righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ – all encompassing, complete from first to last, not in us, but resting in him who died for us. Paul quotes a passage from Habakkuk that states, “The righteous will live by faith.”
The question for me is whether (1) can I accept God’s righteousness and be grateful to be deemed fit for heaven, not on my merits but on the one who saved me, and (2) will I stop demanding of others what I cannot achieve myself – namely, perfection and a righteousness based on works. Can I stop judging another who has just as many faults as I do? Let me keep looking only to Christ by faith, because that is the only measuring stick God uses – our faith in Jesus Christ who died for us and is risen to give the promise of eternal life.
Just for today, Lord, let me give myself unreservedly to you. Let me put my entire trust in you, rather than in my own resources of strength. Forgive me when I judge others by a standard that I also cannot keep. Any righteousness I have comes from you; it is not my own. I praise you and give you all glory in Jesus Christ. Amen.