As a parent, I love the joy my children experience opening presents on Christmas morning. My boys especially love to rip into their gifts with reckless abandon — so excited and eager. What they never do is turn to me and ask, “What do I have to do to earn this?” They know it’s a gift given in love.
In Romans 10:1-4, Paul pleads with his fellow Jews to come to this same realization about their own salvation. He says his own people have a zeal for God but rather than simply receiving the God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, they are trying to earn it through their own good works. That’s what Paul means when he says Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. While all of us fall short of God’s perfect law, Jesus hasn’t and his perfect righteousness is gifted to us.
We live in a performance-based culture. Make the grade, make the team, get the degree, get the job and on and on it goes. From our childhood we learn that if we want to be accepted, significant, even loved then we have to earn it. Unfortunately, this carries over into our relationship with God and our salvation becomes something we try to earn through our religious performance. But that isn’t how God works.
The word grace in the Bible comes from the Greek word charis which can be translated “a gift” or “blessing.” Since the fall, humanity has been longing to recover what was lost in the garden, namely life with God. That’s why God took on flesh and entered into his creation. We could never climb our way back up to him, so he condescended to us out of his love for us. By the cross, he fulfilled all righteousness and open the way for us to receive life with God. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Lord Jesus help us to receive this greatest of all gifts!
— David Cumbie
1) How does knowing God does not accept or love you on the basis of your performance change the way you see God? see yourself?
2) Ask God to reveal and help you let go of any ways you might be trying to earn his love or win the approval of others by acting religous.
*What is the best present you ever received? What did it feel like to receive it and why did someone give it to you? How is Jesus the greatest gift we have ever received and what did it tell us about how God feels about us?
** Jesus, thank you that you came into the world to give us life with God. Help us to remember we can never earn your love or be good enough to make you accept us. Thank you for living a perfect life and dying on the cross in our place. Thank you for the gift of life that comes through faith in you. Amen.