For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
I marked a set of my students’ essays today. Some were rather mediocre, whilst others were starting to show promise. I was greatly impressed with one, however, which was detailed, focused and thoughtfully argued. It was pretty much perfect, as near to perfect as a Sixth Form historian can get. It wasn’t perfect, though. That’s the thing about writing an essay. It’s not like completing a set of maths questions, where, if you get all the answers right, you get full marks. Writing a history is about content, shaping of argument and structure. In my career thus far, I have never given an essay full marks, because I believe that perfection in essay writing is unattainable.
There’s a parallel here with today’s verse. No matter how good we think we are, how kind, loving and generous, we can never be perfect. It is clear in these verses from Paul’s letter to the Romans – ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Not a few, not some, not even most, but ALL have sinned. Even if we consider ourselves good Christians and try to live out our lives according to God’s rules, we still fall short, because perfection in life is unattainable. Ever since Adam and Eve first broke God’s command and ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, humans have been destined to fail, to sin, and to disobey God.
Luckily, despite this rather bleak picture, there is hope! If we choose to accept Jesus as our saviour, we can be forgiven, and enjoy all the rewards that are associated with leading a sin free life, including a place in the new creation after we die. It’s important to remember that the reward we are given, however, is not because of anything that we have done, but comes to us because God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to take on our sin, and to pay the penalty for our sin – namely, death. Luckily, because Jesus is the son of God, he defeated death and rose again, three days later!
Reflect today on the grace of God in sending his son to liberate we sinners. Why not pray for forgiveness of your sins, say thank you for Jesus, and accept that Jesus died for you?