Romans 4. We live in a society that is big on earning what we have.
If we don’t work, we can’t expect to earn or eat. We feel pity on those who are begging at the traffic lights – some may even despise them a little bit, thinking to ourselves: “Why don’t they go find some work to do so that they can earn their daily bread”. We take comfort in the principle: “The man who does not work, does not eat”. You must earn what you get!
In the same way, we so often, even though we know better, think that we can earn God’s favour by doing the right things and by keeping his commands. We think we can earn our own right standing before God – a righteousness of our own.
But here in Romans we find that God is the giver of righteousness. Righteousness is not something that we earn. It is given as a free gift. Romans 4:4-5 makes this plain. We saw this yesterday as we looked at Romans 3. Now here in Romans 4 Paul is underlining the same truth: Righteousness is a free gift from God.
However, there is something that we must do in order to receive this gift. Now that is a confusing idea! I must do something to receive a gift? Then it can’t be a gift!
Just hold on to your horses! What we are required to do is not quite a deed, but more an attitude – more specifically a trust. We have to trust that the Giver of this gift is able and willing to impart it to us. This is what verse 5 means when it says “to the one who…trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”
Abraham’s faith as described in Romans 4:18-21, “Against all hope, Abraham believed … being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what He had promised.” We need to have a faith like this. Do you believe that God is able to give you the gift of righteousness?
Verses 7-8 allude to how this gift becomes ours: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven”. This causes my heart to leap with joy as I know that my sins are forgiven because Christ Jesus was crucified in my place and my “sins are covered”!
“Blessed [indeed!] is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them”! Did you notice that? Never! If you believe God gives this righteousness and forgives sins through Jesus Christ, your sins will NEVER be counted against you!
Oh, how wonderful it is that we can be credited with righteousness from God! Fellow believer, rejoice today because God has given you righteousness – a righteousness you have not earned nor that you deserve. But it IS yours, because you trust that God is able and willing to give it to you.
Let me encourage you today to rest and rejoice in God’s great and generous gift of righteousness.
Our right response in gratitude to God is one of worship (praising and exalting God for His undeserved goodness to us), witnessing (telling others how they too may receive this infinitely generous gift), and working (doing our best to do what pleases and honours God – love Him with all our heart soul and mind, and love our neighbour as ourselves).