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Friday, September 20, 2013
Today’s Reading | Romans 3:19–28
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For “no human being will be justified in his sight” by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.
But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. (NRSV)
In this letter to the church in Rome, we find Paul building a case—a case against boasting. No one, Paul has already argued, is without fault, without sin. If no one, therefore, is able to make oneself worthy of salvation by one’s own efforts, what then becomes of boasting?
In a culture in which diligence and excellence are valued, Paul doesn’t need to argue to convince me that though we strive toward perfection, we nevertheless fall short. I am already keenly aware of my shortcomings. This doesn’t mean, however, that I have not been guilty of boasting. Ridiculous as it may be, my boasts have been less about my accomplishments and more about my privileges. Any honest reflection would reveal an ego puffed up by the privileges I have received.
To the recipients of this letter in his time and to us today, Paul builds a case against boasting. Whether our boast is in our merit or in our privileged membership, Paul reminds us that our only boast should be in the Lord. Paul asks us to follow the example of Christ, who, having every reason to boast, for the sake of others gave up every privilege of being God’s beloved Son.
Lord, I must look so ridiculous to you
when I am puffed up with pride.
If I must boast at all, let my boast be in you.
For the sake of your Son, I pray. Amen.
Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life
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