“Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after but before. And He is also the father of the circumcised who are not only but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” Romans 4: 9, 10, 12 New International Version
We live in an age where nearly everything revolves around finances. Watch television for any length of time and you will be exposed to all its marketing prowess determined to part us from our income! The message is clear, they have something you and I can’t live without. Our lives will be incomplete unless we rush right over to our computer ready to click the order now button. Or, as in the case of Black Friday, it’s war as the buying public seeks to out maneuver all competition!
There is much joy in the days following Black Friday as war stories are swapped “around the water cooler,” as it were. The opportunities to relate to other shoppers the tales of ones own Black Friday adventures must not be wasted! Battle scars must be shown, tales of bravery related, legends of camping out by stores 2 weeks in advance must be admired for tenacity, and the list goes on! There is copious celebrating on the big day when all the danger of facing Black Friday is rewarded by smiles on the faces of family as they open those especial gifts!
However there comes, as the old saying goes, a time to pay the piper! After all the celebrations, parties, visiting relatives, or relatives visited comes the January crash! No more parties until the Super Bowl arrives, leaving hearts and wallets slumped in the Post Christmas Blues. Another specter hovers over the first month of the New Year; here come those pesky credit card bills. Remember those small plastic rectangles used on that most glorious of shopping days, Black Friday? How very enlightening that name has become when referring to the debt incurred on that infamous day.
In this era of ours, a credit rating has become as important as a social security number. Two years ago when we thought our transition destination was the Bay Area, I started looking for places to rent. After the shock of rental sticker prices began to ebb, I noticed every one required a credit check and some before they would even let you view the rentals! As it turned out God had other plans for us, so we never did fill out any paper work or view any places. Still, it seems to me there is less privacy occurring in this culture of ours when credit rating determines whether we are able even to rent a home, or not!
Have you ever checked your credit rating to see the all important number that defines how you are perceived? I just tried to find out ours as it had been awhile, and one of those Free Credit Report links came in my email. I followed the directions with no success! The message was since we hadn’t used any credit cards in the last six months they couldn’t supply a rating. We haven’t used credit cards for several years now, which made discovering our credit rating impossible. We have joined that long list of persons who choose not to spend what we do not have.
Paul addresses the issue of credit in describing how righteousness is applied to the Human Race. Do we earn God’s good favor in the things we seek to accomplish as His followers? What makes us good enough to be in relationship with our Creator? Does He want sacrifice from us in order to build that eternal credit rating? What determines when or how salvation, righteousness, and grace become ours? And when do we finally have the assurance our “rating” is high enough, secure enough to save us? These are questions asked everyday by believers and those who have chosen not to be believers, those who just aren’t aware of the battle for them being waged by God.
So, when did we become eligible for salvation? When was Abraham declared righteous? What determines our righteousness? These questions are not new as revealed by the letter Paul wrote to the Believes in Rome. It has been the struggle of humanity since the moment rebellion was allowed to infect this world. Ever since that moment we have been consumed with either trying to be good enough or just chucking the whole thing away in the realization there’s no chance we would be all that! What will it take to be restored to that moment in time when all of humanity stood perfect and whole in the presence of their Creator?
Well, there is amazing news for this world, the Creator had a plan to answer the rebellion. What the rebellion accomplishes is to separate the created from the Creator causing death. Nothing can live for very long after being disconnected form the source of its life. Humanity is no different. God, knowing what would happen if He created beings with free will, the ability to choose as they desired, had a contingency plan. That plan was Jesus becoming one of us experiencing life on this broken world! Jesus became our Spiritual Credit Rating insuring we would never be turned down for Eternal Life!
It is really very simple. If we will allow God to speak to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit, He makes it quite plain. Abraham was counted righteous before he did any works that would make him eligible for righteousness. Circumcision equals a works focused spirituality seeking to earn salvation and righteousness, a good credit rating with God. This is impossible to accomplish as we are not qualified to earn an excellent credit rating on God’s scale. Therefore, the plan of salvation declares us excellent in every way as we too exercise our faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrected life. Whether Abraham understood it the way we do on this side of the Cross doesn’t matter. All that matters is this, will we accept it is by faith we are declared righteous, having it credited to us by faith completely apart from anything we do?
Everyone is eligible for this righteous credit rating as it is accepted by the faith each has been granted by God. There are no hidden clauses, no fine print, no surprises, except as it finally sinks in just what is ours through believing, through placing our faith in what God promises no matter what we think, feel, or see! There it is, the best guarantee anyone has for the highest credit rating where it counts the most, spiritually in holiness. If that doesn’t encourage us to recognize there is a depth to God’s Grace that’s beyond our understanding, I’m not sure what will.
It never fails that I discover something new when exposed to God’s Grace through the Word (Jesus) that became one of us. Knowing Jesus as a personal Friend, Savior, the One who gave all for us, has its impact on our lives. Through faith we are justified just as Abraham was justified through faith! It reminds us we have nothing to fear when we place our faith in Jesus, the Author and Finisher of that Faith! For my money, it doesn’t get any better than that!
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