“Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.” (Galatians 5:11 NIV)
“What then shall we say? That the Gentiles that did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling block.” (Romans 9:30-32 NIV)
“but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23 NIV)
August is here and that means two things for us: back to school is in full swing and the college football season is rapidly approaching. Many of us UVA Cavalier fans know that the new head football coach, Bronco Mendenhall, has brought a tough and gritty mentality to the culture of this team. His team’s motto is “Earned Not Given.” This means that his players will have to earn everything by working tirelessly through physical and mental challenges. Nothing will be handed out to them.
This mentality of earned not given was the same belief the Israelites had in the Bible about their relationship with the Lord. As you read in Romans 9 above, they pursued righteousness with God through their works alone. The Jews were in search of a Messiah who was a King; who would triumphantly position them for success in the world. They weren’t looking for a servant God who would sacrifice his Son, Jesus Christ on a cross. They struggled to believe in who Jesus was and that he was here to bridge the gap between God and men.
Because of the work Jesus did on the cross, earning your righteousness through works is dead and faith in who Jesus Christ is and what he did for us was birthed. A radical paradigm shift from earned not given to given not earned was set. This is amazing grace.
Can you identify times in your Christian walk where you struggled to accept that works alone can’t bring righteousness with God? Do you see the cross being a stumbling block in the thoughts and beliefs of those around you? How does it make you feel knowing that God intervened and made a way for you to seek relationship with him through his Son?
Father, thank You for sending Your son Jesus to raise up those who believe in You. Help us to be constantly reminded of the grace You gave us through Jesus. Teach us to boldly share with others the Good News of a relationship with You that is given and not earned. In Jesus’ name, amen.