By The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith
In Psalm 7 the psalmist proclaims, “The Lord judges the people” and “God is a righteous judge.” In Job, Elihuargues that, “God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice.” Both the psalmist andElihubelieve that God is just and will judge people fairly. God will judge what is evil and will establish what is righteous. We may not understand why suffering happens but we can trust that God will not let evil stand; justice will prevail.
In the third chapter of Galatians, Paul continues to make his case that if God were to judge us fairly, based solely on our behavior, then God’s justice would condemn us all. But the wonderful truth Paul has come to understand is that the grace of God found in Jesus Christ frees us from condemnation. When we are baptized we literally put on Christ, we are clothed with Christ and all else falls away. In the waters of baptism we die to one way of life and rise to a new life. We die to a life of sin and we rise to a life of grace. It is not that we are able to live sin free after baptism, but sin no longer defines our lives. We are no longer a prisoner of our sins. Now we are one in Christ.
The great joy of our faith is that because of Jesus we have been made into the children of God. We are not condemned; we are loved. We are not judged for our sins, but given a new life and invited to be imitators of Christ. Christ offers himself for the life of the world and in that sacrifice we discover not condemnation and judgment, but forgiveness, love, and grace.
Have you known the joy of being loved fully and deeply in spite of your shortcomings, in spite of your failings? Who in your life has been the bearer of that kind of love for you? Are you the bearer of Christ’s love for others?
Read Genesis chapter 15 again. What did Abraham do that was reckoned to him as righteousness? Did he simply believe in God? What role does trust play in Abraham’s righteousness?
Lord Jesus, help me to trust not in my own righteousness but in your gracious love. Give me the joy of knowing that in you there is always life and hope and peace. Daily draw me closer to you that I might learn to walk in your ways. Thank you for the gift of this day. May I use it wisely and always to your glory. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith is the rector of St. James’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia.