We live in a performance driven culture. Your worth is more often than not determined by your accomplishments. Who you are is determined by what you do. In this world you will be evaluated based on your performance in the classroom, the ball field, the dance floor, the stage, and the workplace.
The worst relationships in life are those based on performance. If you have a coach who is only kind to you when you play well, you will constantly being trying to earn his approval and enough will never be enough. If you have a father who bases his love for you on how well you do in school, sports, or work, you will never be able to rest or feel secure in his love.
What if God’s relationship with you was based solely on your performance? What if God was waiting on you to obey him enough or love him enough before he will love you? Could you trust him? Could you ever really find joy in him? Paul teaches us in Romans 1-3 that if our relationship with God is based on our works, then we have no hope of a relationship with him. The conclusion of the horrible news of Romans 1-3 is found in Romans 3:20. “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through he law comes knowledge of sin.”
In order to be forgiven and justified in God’s sight, we need a work outside of ourselves to be done for us. We need the righteousness of another to be applied to us. Romans 3 brings an end to the bad news and beginning to the new. We are introduced to what Jesus’ death on the cross means for us, our sin, and the judgment we deserve. The only escape from God’s wrath is found in the work of Jesus applied to us. Our relationship with God is not based on our works, but on Christ’s.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.