Day 306: November 2, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Romans 3:21-26
21 But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets 22—that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

25 God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. 26 God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. 28 For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God for Jews only? Is He not also for Gentiles? Yes, for Gentiles too, 30 since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
—Romans 3:23-24

In the Same Boat
by Amy Keys, Member of Brentwood Baptist, The Church at Station Hill

On April 10, 1912, an enormous, luxurious ocean liner named Titanic loaded up over 2,000 passengers and crew members in Europe to travel to America. Among these travelers were both wealthy first-class passengers and poor immigrants.

The poor sold everything they owned just to purchase a third-class ticket, buying a thin bed in a tiny room deep in the ship with modest accommodations. The first-class passengers traveled in style, with suites of rooms, grand restaurants, and lounges.

When the Titanic hit an iceberg, and it became necessary to load people into lifeboats, the first-class passengers were given priority. More of them survived than any other class. However, the lifeboats did eventually fill with people from all of the classes. They were lowered into the water and rowed away from the sinking ship.

In the middle of the night, as the Titanic sank below the surface and disappeared, the 700 people in lifeboats became stripped of their class. There were no first-class lifeboats or third-class lifeboats. No matter what their status had been when they stepped onto the Titanic, it no longer mattered in that moment. Rich and poor, beautiful and homely, immigrant and socialite—all huddled next to each other and desperate to be saved.

When the Carpathia ship arrived, all of the stranded, desperate passengers in the lifeboats were saved, not because they were first-class, and not even because they were third class—but because they were going to die in those lifeboats.

Not one of them had enough money or power to save themselves. The crew of the Carpathia reached out and helped each one aboard, regardless of class or whether or not they deserved it.

You and I are like these passengers. We may not use the labels first- or third-class, but we love to compare ourselves to others. We just can’t help it. From the size of our houses to the size of our pants, we constantly look at other people and ask ourselves: Am I better or worse?

We compare the intelligence of our children, the attentiveness of our spouse, the grandness of our vacations, and our success at our jobs. We constantly stack ourselves up against those around us. Who’s more emotionally stable? Who’s closer to the Lord? Whose family is stronger? Who’s more financially secure?

You know you do it. When you compare yourself with someone else, if you come out on top, it’s tempting to judge:

I studied my Bible every day this week, and he just admitted he hasn’t opened his even once. I’m so much more spiritual.

But if our comparisons go the other way, we feel discouraged and worthless:

She works full-time and still manages to make time for an international mission journey—and she teaches Sunday School every week. I’m just a stay-at-home mom with toddlers who can’t even keep up with the laundry.

Even though we think we understand the truth that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” many of us don’t really live as if we’re equal with our brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re all equally guilty of eternal separation from Christsinful and undeserving of any mercy.

Just the same, all of us are equally saved by His grace. Not one of us is more or less deserving of Jesus’ free gift.

Remember your equality in Christ the next time you feel inferior to that spiritual giant in your Bible study, or the next time you feel superior in comparison to that other believer who continues to fail.

For all have sinned. All have been given justification as a gift. Not earned. Not deserved. We’re all fellow passengers who were floating in a doomed lifeboat waiting to be saved. There’s no distinction, no comparison. It’s only because of Christ that any of us can now be called righteous.

Reflection Questions

  1. In a court of law, if a defendant is found not guilty, he or she is justified and the record is expunged. The crime disappears. What happens when that person is justified by God?
  2. In what way are you still trying to earn God’s favor and forgiveness?
  3. Look up the word “propitiation.” What does it mean for Jesus to be the propitiation for your sins?
  4. How is it that you, even with all your sins and scars, are worthy to be called righteous?
  5. How will your life be different today, knowing that you, and your brothers and sisters in Christ, are saved only because of God’s free gift of forgiveness?

About the Author

Amy Keys

Since 2005, Amy was a member of Brentwood Baptist, then helped launch The Church at Station Hill where she’s now a member. Currently, she’s a homeschool mom who also teaches writing and history at local homeschool tutorials. Since 2002, she’s been writing for the Student Ministry department at LifeWay Christian Resources. Amy is married to Dale and they have three children: Hannah, Hayley, and Caleb. In her free time, she enjoys cooking healthy food, camping, and hiking.