Scripture: Romans 9:19-33
Key verses: (30-33)
30What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; 31but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. 32Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33as it is written, “See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Reflection: Grace is a cornerstone of our faith. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we see lived out the idea that God’s love is poured out on us in spite of our inability to deserve or earn it. This is the good news of the gospel. We know it. We recite it in our creeds and liturgy. We say thanks to God for it in our prayers. We sing about it in our hymns and worship songs. And yet we have a hard time living like it is the gospel truth. We stumble over its truth. Our eyes are set on a much more human way of living — one where we have to prove our worth. And we are good at working on being worthy!
This is not a new problem. Paul’s letters are full of the struggle believers had with a faithful response to God’s grace. Even saying it like that: “a faithful response,” makes it seem like we have to DO something the right way to receive grace. We don’t. Our response comes after we wake up to the fact of God’s grace as a free gift from God.
Have you stumbled over the idea that you have to earn God’s favor? Are you working hard to be worthy of God’s love? May you feel God’s grace poured out on you, like water from a font on the head of a brand new baby. Undeserved. Unearned. A gift for you. Thanks be to God.
Prayer: Lord, help me know your grace, for me and all your children. Pick me up when I stumble. Teach me to respond in faith. In the name of Christ, the rock of my faith, I pray. Amen.
Author: Julie Hester
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].