Scripture: Romans 3:21-31
Observation: Paul tells us that we have all sinned, or “fallen short,” of God’s perfection. However, through faith in Christ Jesus, we are made right with God. Jesus was sent to be our sacrifice and pay the penalty for our sins, so when we put our faith fully in him, we are righteous. We can’t earn salvation; we can simply accept it through faith.
Application: Let’s all start today by taking a road trip down memory lane – for some of us, it’ll be a bit farther back from others. Take yourself back to your pre-teen and teenage years, when your life was punctuated by acne, homeroom, and seriously horrific hairstyles. (Come on, just admit it – we all had bad hair do’s. I had an especially dark period when I went through a “butterfly clip” period much too late in life.) Take yourself back to the time when you decorated your locker, worried about what boys thought about you, and covered your textbooks with paper bags from Hollister. Take yourself back to that time where you constantly told your parents: “This isn’t fair!” and “Everybody’s doing it!”
I was especially guilty of the “everybody’s doing it” one. (Sorry, mom.) I went to a super small Catholic school with about 12 girls in my class so my “everybody” was pretty small. I used the “everybody’s doing it” one to try to convince my mom that I should get to shave my legs the summer after third grade (ladies, remember when shaving your legs was a privilege and not a chore?!), get my ears pierced in fourth grade, and buy ridiculously overpriced Abercrombie & Fitch jeans in high school. Side note: If I ever meet Dave Ramsey in real life, I’m afraid I might resort back to my former Catholic upbringing and just outrageously blurt out: “Bless me, Father, I have sinned; it has been 15 years since my last confession, but I once bought an $80 pair of jeans.” I KNOW. Excuse me while I just go say a whole rosary full of “Hail Mary’s” right now.
We’re all familiar with the “everyone’s doing it” tactic. Paul is, too. He uses it in verse 23 when he tells us that when it comes to sin, it seems like everyone’s doing it. We are all guilty. Some of us are “less guilty” than others, but at the end of the day, we’ve all sinned. And if the word “sin” freaks you out, I feel ya. Just insert the phrase “fallen short” or “missing the mark” instead…I think we can all agree that we’ve all done that at some point in our lives.
This sin thing plagues us – all of us. It plagues CEOs and high school dropouts, alcoholics and engineers, moms and wives, teachers and students. Sin doesn’t really care who we are or what we do; it affects each one of us a little bit differently. Some of us struggle with gossip, others with addiction, others with impatience or selfishness or greed. But, we all struggle with something. And it’s that something that keeps us from measuring up to God’s glorious standard that Paul is talking about. No matter what we do or how “good” we are, we’ve still sinned at some point, which means we’re not perfect and we can never be “enough” for God. I know that’s a pretty depressing thought, but keep reading, friends – thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.
Enter Jesus. God knew we would struggle with sin, that’s why he sent us his Son to come down from heaven, live as a human on earth, and die a pretty violent death for us on the cross. Jesus is often called the “Savior of the world,” and it’s because he saves us from our own sin. All we have to do is make the decision to put our faith in him. Faith is the answer.
We’re not made right with God by being good enough, or by being better than our neighbor, or by doing the “right” things. Some of you are burning yourself trying to be ‘good enough.” Some of you are exhausted by looking around and attempting to convince yourself you’re “not that bad” compared to everyone else. Some of you are tirelessly trying to check your boxes – go to church and give and pray – but are so disconnected from the why behind all that what. If that’s you, stop right now. There’s another way. His name is Jesus. He’s perfect and complete, and he is ready to bear your burdens, your secrets, your sorrows, and replace it all with the joy and confidence that comes from a relationship with him.
If Jesus is already the leader and lord of your life, let today be a reminder to you that we have this perfect Savior who loves us, redeems us, and restores us, even though we are incredibly unworthy. Bask in his grace today.
And if you don’t yet know Jesus – maybe you know of him but you don’t have a truly personal relationship with him – then, pray this prayer with me today. I wrote this prayer for you. I prayed something similar one day when I was 19-years-old, and I invited Jesus into my life, and it changed forever. Yours can, too.
Prayer: Jesus, I recognize that I’m imperfect and that I’m never going to be able to measure up to God’s glorious standard. I realize that there’s nothing I can do or say to get right with God – I need you. I praise you for sacrificing yourself for me, for willingly dying on that cross so that my sins could be forgiven. I pray you’ll become real in my life today.