By Brooke Holt
“What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather 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 counted to him as righteousness.’” Romans 4:1-3
Last night, my husband had us take quizzes that would identify our strengths and lead to understanding about our best vocations. While the quiz was not comprehensive and certainly did not lead me to a career change, it reminded me of how much I value rules, structure, and a systematic approach to life. At the core of my being, I long to know the rules and expectations so that I can do what is right and good in this world and most importantly before God. While that sounds holy, my desire for rules stems from my deep desire to please people and God and to earn their love and favor. Honestly, I would love to earn my own righteousness. Something innate within me (and all of us) wants to feel worthy on my own.
Yet, I know that no matter how hard I work at keeping the rules and following the commands of the Lord, I fail at this every single day. I simply can’t make myself righteous before a holy God. Nobody can; not even the patriarch Abraham could do that.
In this passage from Romans, Paul writes that believing made Abraham right before God and not doing. Abraham obeyed God. He left his home trusting that the Lord would lead him to a new land. God stayed faithful through the journey though Abraham was not always right on track. Even he failed many times along the way. Abraham’s obedience, though commendable, was not perfect and could not justify him before a holy God or make him righteous.
Instead, the righteousness of God was reckoned to Abraham through faith. Righteousness before God was a gift to Abraham; it is also the gift God would like to give to you. Like Abraham, you will never obey perfectly and be able to earn righteousness on your own. But you can, through faith, receive the righteousness of Jesus. When you turn to the Lord by putting your faith in the salvific work of Jesus, the righteousness of Jesus Christ becomes your righteousness. All the sin, the failure, the rebellion, the doubts – all the things that would separate you from a holy God -- are washed away by the blood of Jesus. When the Lord looks at you, he sees the righteousness of his Son.
Wow – what a gift! Will you receive this righteousness and release the way of striving to make your own way?
Where do you look for your righteousness? This Lenten season, may we marvel at the great gift given to us through Jesus. He was and is the only one to live a life of righteousness. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Could you use some hope right now? Join Peter’s first audience—“elect exiles” undergoing persecution—and experience the apostle’s powerful call to follow Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, knowing your Living Hope is not a distant one, but a daily, glorious, life-giving reality! This unique six-week small group Bible study, A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, helps you uncover the priceless promises written specifically to the struggling and the hurting, with pastoral gentleness and bold confidence for the future. This study of 1 Peter will help you become utterly convinced that Jesus is the only sure, true, incorruptible, and permanent hope for you.
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