The first half of Romans 3 was in my reading for tonight. I’d like to say “my daily reading” but to be candid, I struggle to make the time to read scripture daily. You know how when you’re out of shape and you work a long hard day, all you want to do is curl up into a motionless blob and watch Netflix? The last thing you want to do is go to the gym and workout; you’re exhausted enough already without one more thing to add! And yet, in the back of your mind, you know that if you exercised regularly you would be healthier, have greater endurance, and have more energy. You’d be less tired, if you just did the thing you’re too tired to do.
That’s how I feel about reading scripture right now. My days are long and exhausting, from an emotional standpoint. Tin Tin misses his deployed daddy and at four years old needs a lot of emotional support from me. Meddy is teething, as toddlers are apt to do, and snuggling crying toddlers is a blessed but exhausting occupation. Of course, I’m going through a few hurdles myself! By the end of the day all I want to do is emotionally check out, be passively entertained, and not think. I know improving my spiritual life would make the rest of my day better, but it’s hard to push through.
Anyway. Tonight I did, and praise God because His word is truly life giving. Romans 3 is basically saying that no one can boast about their heritage or good works, because we all suck. Equally and completely.
Not a single one of us is righteous. None of us understand on our own. In fact, none of us even SEEKS GOD on our own. Our sinful nature isn’t capable of even seeking God. We are entirely selfish. You are. I sure am. Your neighbor is. Your kid is. We are all equally unrighteous. So the good news is… y’all, we’re in this together. There is no us vs them. Come stand by me because I’m just as depraved as you are, and you’re no better than me. Are you frustrated that you can’t seem to achieve your standard of righteousness, or even acceptable behavior, no matter how hard you TRY? Me too.
So if we all fall short… is that the end of the story? No, of course not. We call all be JUSTIFIED. The word “justified” here is defined in Strong’s dictionary as “to render (i.e. to show or regard as) just or innocent: -free, justify, be righteous.” We are made innocent. Considered to be righteous. Even though all of us are equally wicked by our nature, we are given the gift of justification through the redemption that is Christ Jesus. We are forgiven, made clean! No matter how terrible our actions have been, we can be redeemed. But one last reminder in this section of the chapter:
We are justified but not by our works. Following the rules doesn’t make you justified. Why? Remember, we can’t do it on our own! We aren’t capable. We can’t even seek out God. God calls out to us and by faith we respond. It is that faith, which is from God, that allows us to be justified.
I really wanted to share this passage with you all tonight because I am often discouraged by my own failures. I snapped at my kids today. I told them no talking in the car because Mommy needs alone time. At one point I told them to stop touching me. I was just spent, I had nothing left to give, or that’s what it felt like. My works today were not sufficient. Not good enough. Not enough. But it’s not about me and my works. It’s not about me trying hard enough to willpower my way up to God. It’s about faith, accepting forgiveness and justification, relying on God to be enough. So if you’re discouraged, please remember two things. One, I’m right there with you and we suck equally. Two, thankfully, God’s the one who needs to be Enough and not you. And He is. You can trust Him.