Saying and Doing

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 3:21-24

Many say that they believe in Christ.  It is quite easy to do so.  However, a disconnect exists between the words and actions of those who say that they believe in Jesus.  You’ve heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.”  Why is it, then, that so many, in fact, all, who say that they are Christian, fail the test of backing their own words with their actions?  Many speak contrary to the Word of God, and yet they claim that what they are saying is Christian.  Others say that they are Christian, but live immorally (living together before marriage, “sleeping around,” cheat on their taxes, use other people for their own gain, etc.).  Still, others who claim to be Christian think little of other people and are only concerned about themselves—and none other (see 1 John 4:7-11).

These things, and our own experience, demonstrate that words can be deceiving.  However, they also show the weakness of our sinful flesh.  Christians do indeed say one thing, and often do another.  Such was the struggle of St. Paul (Romans 7), and such is our own struggle with sin.

 Christians, as well as nonChristians, see and know the contrast that exists in what Christians say and do.  This cannot be avoided, because Christians are, in truth, sinners.

This is very frustrating, not only because of the way the world sees the words and actions of Christians and how inconsistent they truly are, but because the Christian also knows these things.  They say one thing and do another.  They confess their sin, and do the same thing again.  They say, “I’m sorry” the one moment, and the next, keep doing that thing that they had said they were sorry for.

It’s quite tempting to become despondent and despair because of one’s own shortcomings and failures, in fact, of one’s own sin.  This is a cross that Christians are to bear (Matthew 10:38-39).  Here, it’s a great temptation to consider others somehow more worthy of God’s grace and favor than oneself.

But remember, even St. Paul had said, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

God’s grace and favor does not depend on your worthiness or unworthiness.  It depends on Christ.  Here, one is not more worthy than any other.  Here, God’s mercy and compassion through His Son is all that you need.

Should you come bringing your own “worth” to God, you then will most certainly not have His grace upon you.  But seek the mercy of God in Christ, without any merit or worthiness in you, and God’s grace you most certainly will have—sin forgiven and peace with God (Romans 5:1).

Believing such revealed truth is faith, faith that believes in the heart, and the faith that doesn’t merely speak with the mouth (Romans 10:4-13).  One who so believes will constantly struggle with their sinful flesh, confess their sins to God, believe in the Lord Jesus for forgiveness, and seek to amend their sinful life.   Though life will be one of falling and failing, the Lord does neither.  And in Jesus is our trust, comfort, and hope.  So the Christian will constantly seek to do better, knowing that salvation rests in Jesus alone.  Amen.

Luther

“It is easy for you to say and believe that Christ, the Son of God, was given for the sins of Peter, Paul, and other saints, who seem to us to have been worthy of this grace. But it is very hard for you, who regard yourself as unworthy of this grace, to say and believe from your heart that Christ was given for your many great sins.”  (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p34).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive me for not being and doing who you have called me to be and what you have called me to be doing.  Direct my eyes, not to any worthiness in me or in any other, but to Christ Jesus and Him alone (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Help me to do better.  Give me a firm faith, that I boldly confess Your Holy Name and also live a godly life, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

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