Reading: Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor 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 reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
“We are justified by grace through faith.” If you’ve gone through a Lutheran catechism class, you’ve had this one drilled into you. It’s not about the law, or “works righteousness,” but about grace. Our relationship with the Divine is not defined by what we do, but who we are—precious children of God.
Even so, it’s tempting to put our trust in our capacity to do, rather than just be. We think we must “earn our keep,” so to speak, for God to truly love us. But that is so not how it works. God loves you for who you are and in spite of your brokenness. It’s just that simple. It’s just that amazing!
We do good things (feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the grieving, etc…) not to gain Divine favor, but rather in response to the beautiful, miraculous gift of grace we have received by our faith in the God who creates, saves, and sends us out into the world wrapped in love and mercy.
By grace we have been saved, indeed!
—Lisa Raylene Barnes
God of love, by grace we have been saved for such a time as this. Strengthen us in our resolve to live as you called us to live: enveloped by mercy, justice, and hope.