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Monday, July 4, 2016

Today’s Reading | Romans 3:21-31

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. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. (NRSV)

For a lot of my life, I have avoided doing things unless I knew I could succeed. I have gone to great lengths to avoid situations where I felt like I might really mess things up. Only recently have I begun to challenge that tendency, and I have discovered a whole new kind of freedom.

Have you ever really messed things up? Have you ever done that while trying desperately hard to get everything right? I have. I am a perfectionist by nature, and I’ve never handled the possibility of failure very well. I have a tendency to measure my value by what I can accomplish and how well I can accomplish it. But because I’m human, this strategy for measuring worth destines me for disappointment. Of course I will fail sometimes. Of course I will not be perfect. That is true for us all.

The good news of our faith is that Jesus does not measure our value by our own perfection. Jesus has faith in us and loves us as we are. What saves us is his perfect love for us, rather than anything we might achieve, whether through good works or success in life. I find this truth incredibly liberating. It doesn’t mean that we don’t strive to be good in our lives, but our efforts toward goodness are responses rather than requirements. Our faith in Christ and his love for us compels us toward goodness, however we might falter in the process. I believe this understanding--an acknowledgement of our own inability to be perfect—actually enables us to be better. So let us go out into this world as the beautifully beloved and flawed human beings that we are and seek to do whatever good we can in grateful response to the grace we have been given.

Loving God, we thank you for giving us life and loving us even in our imperfections. We thank you for claiming us as we are. Help us to have faith in your love and to live as reflections of your grace. Amen.

Written by Layton Williams, Pastoral Resident

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