There’s a big difference between maturing in our faith and thinking that we’ve earned our way into a right standing before God. The only way God sees us as righteous is because Jesus places Himself in front of us before Him. Romans 8 does an amazing job of explaining the foundation of the Gospel to us. We can’t do anything to earn it; we can never graduate from the Gospel message. Instead, we need to come to the realization that we’ve been saved and out of that understanding, we can place our trust in Jesus.
I grew up a moralist — trying to do everything right at all times. But throughout the whole chapter of Romans 8, not one command is given to Christ’s followers. The chapter is saturated with the concept of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Then we turn to the Book of James, which is all about faith and works. When we marry this with what Paul is saying in Romans, we know that faith and works are inseparable. Our works do not add anything to our faith, they are the overflow of our faith. It’s our response to God’s work.
When I’m in the outfield during a softball game, I have an initial knee-jerk reaction when the batter hits the ball. How fast you react is critically important in this game. We call it “read and react.” As I see the batter swing, I can tell where the ball is going to go, and meanwhile, my feet are reacting as I see it. The same concept applies to the batter. You read the pitch and react.
Our response to the Gospel should be to read and react. We read the truth in the Word, we see it lived out in others’ lives, and we react in our own lives. We should never read the Word and then keep our feet stuck in the ground. There should be a natural reaction when we read God’s truths that cause us to act. However, if we lose a sense of humility, we will stop reacting. If we think we’ve made it, we’ll never grow. Humility results in a life of action.
In the world of sports, performance and achievement are everything. Athletes are geared to this mindset. But the opposite is true of God’s Kingdom. Recently, my pastor posed the question, “What is the expression you picture on God’s face when your name pops into His head? If it’s anything but delight, you have a wrong understanding of the Gospel.” I have to admit, when I first thought of God’s expression when He thinks of Janie Reed, my honest reaction was to believe He’s thinking, “You’re almost there.” I had a sense that I didn’t truly believe that He delights in me and is for me.
The truth is, God is not an egotistical being, waiting for us to climb our way toward Him. He came down and rescued us. As believers, we can look at how the world around us works and start to believe God reacts the same way. He doesn’t. The picture of our world can easily distort our view of God. But God is for us. He is with us. He is interceding for us in ways that we will never fully understand until we see Him face to face.
Take inventory of your life daily. Take inventory of your relationship with God and how you view Him, as well as how you think He views you. Meditate on His truths and know that nothing can separate you from the love He has for you. If we take the time to slow down and understand what God is saying to us, we will begin to discover how deep His love for us truly is.
— Janie Reed, USA Softball player
Janie Reed is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Janie’s Increase profile here.
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