“So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.”
If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.” (Romans 4: 1-5, The Message)
It’s so hard to understand righteousness. I don’t think it’s really supposed to be as hard as Paul makes it out to be. He sort of rambles in this chapter, and even this book. This is why I like The Message Bible so much. There is just a boat load of theological thoughts in this book of Romans. In this specific chapter he tries to describe why Abraham was justified by faith. Maybe he over describes righteousness and justification. Basically Abraham loved God. Without seeing, he believed. And because he believed and had faith that wasn’t seen, he was in favor with God. He didn’t need laws, his heart was in the right place. He wanted what God wanted.
I can give my children rules. Teach them about traffic and knives, but it doesn’t mean I’ll keep them any safer. I can try, but it doesn’t always work. The other day I heard a crash in the back room and found Elijah standing next to the girls dresser, which was now laying on the floor. He had pulled the drawers out and started to climb it. We had recently moved the dresser to another location and forgotten to bolt it back into the wall (learned a lesson there didn’t we!). When the dresser started to fall he had thankfully fallen away from the dresser and it didn’t fall on him. I found him lying next to the dresser. I’m quite certain he would have had some serious injuries had it fallen on him.
We can have rules for our kids, but until they understand it’s not about rules, it’s about being safe and wanting to remain safe, we’re going to have little issues that remind us how much they don’t fully understand. It’s really a heart issue. They’ve got to want it. I suppose this is how it is with God. We think it’s all about the rules. When really it’s about changing the heart. It’s about seeking after things that God seeks after.
If you’ve been bogged down by rules your whole life. Do this, don’t do this. There might even be some unsaid rules. Start thinking about simply living in the presence of God. Living by faith and simply loving him for what He has done for us, not what we are doing for him.