Monday Devotional: February 27, 2023
Bible Reading: Romans 4:1-5,13-17 (CEB)
1 So what are we going to say? Are we going to find that Abraham is our ancestor on the basis of genealogy? 2 Because if Abraham was made righteous because of his actions, he would have had a reason to brag, but not in front of God. 3 What does the scripture say? Abraham had faith in God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. 4 Workers’ salaries aren’t credited to them on the basis of an employer’s grace but rather on the basis of what they deserve. 5 But faith is credited as righteousness to those who don’t work, because they have faith in God who makes the ungodly righteous. 13 The promise to Abraham and to his descendants, that he would inherit the world, didn’t come through the Law but through the righteousness that comes from faith. 14 If they inherit because of the Law, then faith has no effect and the promise has been canceled. 15 The Law brings about wrath. But when there isn’t any law, there isn’t any violation of the law. 16 That’s why the inheritance comes through faith, so that it will be on the basis of God’s grace. In that way, the promise is secure for all of Abraham’s descendants, not just for those who are related by Law but also for those who are related by the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us. 17 As it is written: I have appointed you to be the father of many nations. So Abraham is our father in the eyes of God in whom he had faith, the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that don’t exist into existence.
Abraham is central to Paul in his letter to the Romans because Paul sees Abraham as the common ancestor for Jews and Gentiles, showing both peoples how faith works. While we might imagine Abram lifting his eyes to the hills and embracing the vulnerability of his createdness in trusting the God who never slumbers, we also have no reason to believe he did anything special leading up to the moment God spoke to him to deliver the divine promise. This is how Paul wants us to understand grace through faith: Just as Abraham did nothing to earn the divine promise, so we can do nothing to earn our salvation. And just as Abraham nonetheless became a blessing to all nations, so all Christ-followers can become adopted into the family tree that begins with Abram.
As simple as the concept of grace is — we cannot work out our way to salvation because salvation is a gift — living into this concept daily is challenging. Western culture, in particular, promotes the idea that we are only as valuable as our last accomplishment and that we should be measured by what we produce, consume, or display. This is why practices of fasting and rest are radical forms of discipleship.
If you are not already doing so, consider deepening your Lenten journey by fasting from a habit or practice that ties you too closely to human economies that rely on overwork and overconsumption. Find moments this season to rest in the assurance that you are God’s precious child, loved unconditionally, chosen, like Abram, before you did anything to earn it.
Gracious God, thank you for adopting me as your child. Allows me to rest, knowing that you never rest. Allow me to know- deep down- the gift of grace you have offered me. Amen.
By Elizabeth W. Corrie, The Upper Room Disciplines 2023, page 83.