Romans 10: Earning Righteousness
I don’t know about you, but I like to have a certain amount of control over what happens in my life. I like to have some idea of what I am going to have, and I find it much easier than having to trust other people all the time.
The Christian faith is built on trust in God. In Romans 10, we find what could be seen as a rather frightening passage if we were not able to trust God.
Rom 10:3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Paul goes on in this passage to continue talking about salvation, but as you read about people are creating their own sense of righteousness, I think we can do that even while we are doing things that are good things to do.
“If only I volunteer at church a few times per week, I might earn my way into favor with God.”
“If I patch up that relationship with my neighbor, God might love me more.”
“If I donate all my money to charity, maybe God will be happier with me.”
We try to create righteousness in our lives. We try to work harder in an effort to make God love us more, but the truth is that trying to establish our own sense of righteousness through good actions simply does not cut it.
Verse four lays it out for us. Jesus is the end or conclusion of the law of righteousness. Righteousness does not come from us, but it comes from Jesus Christ Himself. God loves us because we are His children; it is not predicated on our good works. God does not love Mother Teresa more than you. He loves both of you infinitely in the way that only God can. That does not diminish either one of you whatsoever; it points to the incredible love of God and His amazing capability.
This is frightening however because I have to trust that God loves me. I like to have a little checklist of things that I can do to ensure that God loves me more than the next guy. I want to make sure I am getting that righteousness. Regardless, God tells us that that is not how it works. Jesus Christ is our righteousness. God sees us as righteous because we are justified by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are not righteous because of our own works.
What implications does that have in our lives?
Having a life that is based upon the love of God and not based on earn our own righteousness ought to change our perspective on some level. When we do volunteer at church for example which is still a good thing to do, we are doing it because we want to. We are not doing it because we are trying to earn righteousness. However, something paradoxical will happen. Because we are developing our relationship with Jesus Christ, the fruit of the Spirit will continue to mature within us, and as that happens, we will actually do more good work even though we are not doing it for the reward of earnings any more love from God.
This is frightening to me. I have to let go of my own control on some level. However, it seems to be what we are called to do as a response to the love of God. Maybe you and I can work on this together.