SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul begins this chapter by explaining that the Israelites were zealous for God, but instead of accepting the righteousness (right standing with God) that he was offering them through faith in Jesus, they were trying to establish their own righteousness through their own good works. Paul explains that we can't be good enough on our own -- it is always a losing proposition.
- We learn that the offer God makes is available to everyone, not just an elite few.
- Before people can believe the good news they must hear the good news (verse 14). It is incumbent on those of us who believe to share the good news with people so they can have the opportunity to believe (verse 15).
- We get to choose whether we will approach God through trying or through trusting. Here are some distinctions:
- Trying says, "I obey; therefore I'm accepted." Trusting says, "I'm accepted; therefore I obey."
- Trying has fear and insecurity as the motivation. Trusting has grateful joy as the motivation.
- People who are trying get angry with God when circumstances go wrong because they think they deserve a comfortable life from God. People who trust struggle when circumstances go wrong, but they know God is still in control and things will ultimately be okay.
- The person who tries spends most of their prayer time telling God what they want. The person who is trusts spends much of their prayer time thanking and praising God.
- People who try have their identity and self-worth based on how they perform, and will often be either proud or self-loathing, and can look down on others. People who trust have their identity and self-worth centered on Jesus, which allows them to avoid pride and self-loathing and looking down on others.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Are you trying to be good enough, or are you trusting Jesus to make you good enough? In the list above, which "side" better describes you? As Paul says about the Israelites, the "trying" approach is actually a rejection of God. If you are trying to be good enough, you are rejecting the offer God has made you through Jesus. Choose a life of grace. A life of faith. A life of trusting. It is the only way of approaching God that works for him, and will work for you.
- Are you sharing the good news of God's grace offer to us with others? Who could you share it with? Who could you invite to church so they can hear the good news?