Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declared righteous the ungodly, his faith is credited for righteousness. Romans 4:4-5
I go to work. I get paid. There’s a fair exchange there – my labor for cash.
I believe on Jesus. I’m declared righteous. This time, the exchange is not so fair, but it’s an exchange none the less – my faith for His righteousness.
Not my work for His righteousness. No. My good deeds could not purchase His righteousness any more than my teacher assistant salary could purchase the Mona Lisa. No matter how hard I try, how many hungry people I feed, how many Bible studies I lead, or how many lost people I witness to, I can never earn righteousness. I will always fall short. When I’m feeding the hungry people, I might feel a twinge of resentment. When I’m leading the Bible study, I may think an unkind thought in the middle of it. When I’m witnessing to the lost person, I may be prideful. No matter how good I am, there’s always a little bad mixed in there with it. And just a little sin is enough sin to keep me soundly labeled “unrighteous.”
But I love today’s verse, because if I believe on Him, then he takes my belief and says, “Ok then. I’ll just call you righteous.” Despite the fact that I don’t deserve it.
I’m not righteous. But He says I am.
And that makes it so.
Praise God for a gift beyond compare.