You Don’t Want What You Earn

rom 4Today’s bible reading is Romans 4.

When I was 15, I started my first “real” job. Before I started, I was told that instead of getting paid hourly, I would just get paid a flat rate of $70.00 per day. At the time, this sounded great to me! The job was about an hour from my house, and I was supposed to start at 7:00am. I got up early, drove to work, and worked hard…until about 9:00pm. Then I drove an hour home. A 14 hour day with 2 hours of driving tagged on. $70.00 didn’t seem like much anymore. Thankfully, this extra-long day wasn’t the norm, and my boss was a very fair person. But I do remember thinking that first day, “I’m not sure I got what I earned.” Have you ever had this thought? “I’m not getting what I deserve.” In Romans 4, Pauls tells us that we don’t get the wages we earn either, and it turns out, that is a very good thing.

“For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” [4] Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. [5] And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, [6] just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

[7] “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,

and whose sins are covered;

[8] blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”” (Romans 4:3-8 ESV)

The Bible is telling us that we don’t want to try to earn right standing before God, because if we try to earn our standing before God, we’ll get paid exactly what we deserve. God, in his love for us, made a way that we could stand before him perfectly even though we don’t deserve it. In verse 16 Paul says, “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16 ESV) This is the big truth that Paul is trying to help us understand. You cannot save yourself, you have to trust Christ’s work on your behalf.

I love the way the chapter wraps up. Paul refers back to verse 3, where he quotes Genesis and says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” He then closes the chapter by reminding us that we can be “counted as righteous” too!

[Abraham] grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, [21] fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. [22] That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” [23] But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, [24] but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, [25] who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:20-25 ESV)

Let’s be people who are “fully convinced that God is able to do what he has promised.” People who never ask for what they deserve, but instead remember that our very lives are acts of God’s great grace.

Questions for Reflection

Have you ever had a, “but I deserve better” moment with God? How can Romans 4 help you think rightly about what you deserve vs. what you’ve been given?

How does Romans 4 help you understand your security in Christ? If you were saved even though you didn’t deserve it, could you get unsaved by deserving that?

Have you ever had a friend who seems “too far gone” for the gospel? Do they need to straighten up their life before coming to God?

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