Nobody wants to be alone, we all want friends, people that will accept us for who we are. Most of us can remember as insecure teenagers trying so hard to fit in with our peers. Often this need for acceptance transfers right into adulthood. Even as Christians we can be so different in thinking than other Christians that we feel on an island all alone. It would be easier to just agree with a mixed, diluted form of Christianity in order to remain in fellowship.
What often gets people to like us is how well we are at something. When I was great in High School football people liked me despite how different I was from them. Now as a preacher if I just speak what people want to hear I will be liked. The world is so much about performance that it is easy to develop a works mentality even regarding our relationship with God.
Here in Romans 4, we have an example of Abraham who was accepted by God simply because he believed in Him. It reminds me of the moment I saw Loraine and just knew she was the one for me and when I told her even though to many it would have been crazy, she accepted it. I had not yet proven to her my love, I had nothing to offer her, but yet she believed.
The Issue Paul is addressing throughout Romans is Works, the Jewish Leaders thought they were justified by God because of the Law. The truth is by grace we are saved through faith, it is a gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). Abraham is the ultimate example of this and Paul knew that the religious leaders he was addressing would have a hard time arguing against the father of their faith.
It says in verse 3 that “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness.” So what had Abraham done? Nothing, the law had not yet even been established. He just believed! The question is, do we believe?
Nelson's Bible Dictionary defines faith as a belief in or confident attitude toward God, involving a commitment to his will for one's life. Nelson also says belief is to place one's trust in God's truth. A person who believes is one who takes God at his word and trusts in him for salvation.
To say I believe in God is easy to say but much more difficult to walk out. We must make sure that our belief in God is not just as far as it fits our will, but rather it is accepting His will no matter how we feel or think about it, we just believe.
One usually gets credit and therefore paid if they do their job right. Abraham was credited as righteous for doing nothing but believing. When one believes in God their sins are forgiven for they are believing that Jesus covered their sin by His sacrifice on the cross. Abraham was not even circumcised, as it says in verses 9-12, yet he was credited as righteous.
The Religious leaders looked down at the world as unholy, uncircumcised, sinners. Yet Paul was making it clear that being religious meant nothing if one has not been circumcised in heart by the Holy Spirit. It is only through Holy Spirit that one can be Holy. When we believe in God, Holy Spirit goes to work. It is not our works but God’s works through His Spirit that clothe us in His Righteousness.
Paul encourages his listeners not to follow in the footsteps of leaders who are works-oriented but to follow the example of Abraham who is the father of our faith. Works produce wrath because they can never live up, we always fall short and therefore feel condemned and reap what we sow, unrighteousness.
Our American culture is obsessed with stardom! We try so hard to find a talent that will cause others to idolize us. The sad thing is most stars eventually fall, it is so hard to maintain public approval, one wrong word or act the world so easily turns.
Abraham was told that his inheritance was like the stars in the sky, we who have faith in God are stars! Stars light up only because they are a reflection of the sun. We can not get credit for the light we are just a reflection of the Son, and if we forget, we quickly will fall.
As Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goeth before destruction, haughtiness before the fall,” and as it says in Luke 14:11 “those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The key to reflecting the Son is humility, as long as we remain humble we will continue to light up a dark world as God’s stars.