Prepare to Listen. In stillness be attentive to Jesus. Pray: You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Prayerfully Read Romans 4:1-5
What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ 4Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness.
“What then are we to say was gained by Abraham?” From the perspective of today’s culture, we might say Abraham and Sarah gained a lot. They possessed great wealth, were founding ancestors of many people, and began God’s covenant salvation plan for all creation. But Paul wasn’t thinking of material tangible gain. What they gained was something they could never have earned or achieved on their own—a righteousness from God that comes only to those who believe (think trust).
Unfortunately, we so often assume that righteousness means living morally good, upright lives, and no more. And we presume we achieve this through hard work and discipline. Living morally good and upright lives is desirable and an urgent need in most, if not all, societies around the world. And yes, the righteousness that was reckoned to Abraham would have led him to live this way as a matter of course. However, this kind of lifestyle is the result of what God does deep within. In the biblical understanding, righteousness, as N. T. Wright proposes, is “not so much the abstract idea of justice or virtue, as right standing and consequent right behaviour, within a community” (In New Dictionary of Theology. 1988, p. 591). In other words, righteousness is about right standing with God; it’s a result of God joining us to his covenant of salvation. Our morally upright lives are evidence of our covenant relationship to God, that is, our righteousness from God. This is what Abraham and Sarah gained—reckoned as righteous, that is, in right standing with God as members of the covenant of salvation. Such standing came because of their courageous and persistent faith (trust) in a God who makes outrageous demands and promises.
When we trust in Jesus we too are reckoned as righteous. Think of ways to live freely today as righteous, in right standing with God.
Respond to Jesus
In you Lord Jesus I am reckoned as righteous. All I’ve done in the past, what I’ll do today won’t change this great truth. Help me to live out this righteousness today so that others may know I’m one of yours. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world as a grateful receiver of God’s righteousness.
Because I believe that Scripture is food for our soul (our entire being) I seek to read it and encourage others to read it in ways that nourish and transform our beings. I invite you to read the Bible with me during Lent and into Easter. I am a Bible teacher, spiritual companion and retreat director. I know the Bile and how to read it for spiritual formation.