Sharing His love with others, communicating the Gospel, and making disciples – it is easy to focus on how we should help others who need Jesus. We can get caught in the trap of only looking outward when we think of those needing His grace.
We remember that “the wrath of God is revealed from against all ungodliness…” (Romans 1:18), and we think about all those others who are ungodly.
We remember that “there is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10), and we think of how sad that is – for all those others.
We remember that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and we think of how all those others have great spiritual need.
But then we cheer up a bit, as we remember that “while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). We pause at this point, hearing the “we” as “they.” And we thank the Lord that He intervened – for them.
Our thoughts drift toward the Gospel, and how the righteousness of God is “through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe…” (Romans 3:22). And we hope and pray that others will believe, so that they can be justified by God (Romans 3:28).
We take joy in the fact that there “is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), and are thankful that God’s judgment will not come upon those others who believed.
We take note that one day those others will be “conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:29), and we are filled with gladness – because, boy, they sure need to change like that.
And we like to remind the others “by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship” (Romans 12:1).
Finally, we add to our exhortations for them, “and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). We sigh with satisfaction, that we have had these great spiritual thoughts about others, and that we have appreciated God’s grace and His marvelous work. We are so glad He did it because those others – them and they – all needed it.
Then we decide to finish the Book of Romans. What the heck…we’ve already come this far. Why stop now. We arrive at the last few verses: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ…be the glory forever. Amen.” Hmmm…
At that moment, we look in the mirror (the proverbial one, not the literal one, unless a literal one is nearby, in that case the literal one will do just fine), and we realize that this was not just written for them. This story of supreme spiritual need and God’s immense grace and provision through Jesus Christ is not just for others.
It was for me. I am the ungodly. I am the unrighteous. I have sinned and fallen short of His glory. I am a helpless enemy of God. But at the right time, Christ died for me, and at the moment I believed in Him, I was justified and given the righteousness of Christ. There is no more condemnation for me, because I am in Him. He is working on me daily to shape and mold me, and one day (when I meet Him face to face) He will complete the work in me and I will be conformed to the image of Christ. And in light of His mercies, He expects that I should present my body to Him as a living sacrifice – after all, I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20).
I am that unworthy worm for whom Jesus died. When remembering His death, I am an arrogant fool if I think of its cause and benefit in relation only to others.
I thank God for His grace. For I am guilty of all. I deserve only His wrath yet He loves me and calls me His child – giving His own that I might live. I thank God that Christ was raised from the dead – to prove He could accomplish all He had promised, and to give us the certainty that He will complete His work in our lives. He asks us to believe, and then to walk in belief.
Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sov’reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
2. Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, thine,
And bathed in its own blood,
While all exposed to wrath divine
The glorious Suff’rer stood!
3. Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
4. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When God, the mighty Maker, died
For man, the creature’s sin.
5. Thus might I hide my blushing face
While his dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.
6. But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
‘Tis all that I can do.
– Isaac Watts