Pentecost 16, Monday, Year B

Inspired by Romans 3:9-20

“Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For ‘no human being will be justified in his sight’ by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:19-20 (NRSV)

Much has been made about the number of laws in the Old Testament and the sheer impossibility of following all of them at all times. For that matter, the behavioral codes cited by the epistle writers in the New Testament are equally impossible to meet. So what is a person of faith to do?

The law shows us God’s vision of justice and equity. It shows his care for the marginalized and voiceless of humanity. It shows how seriously he considers our interpersonal relationships within our families and within our communities to be. It shows us that God’s ways are not our ways. And while it shows us all these things, it also shows us that no matter how hard we try, no matter how well-intentioned we may be, we are unable to live up to this vision.

And in that moment of humility, we are ready for grace.

The grace of God in Christ does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Yet without the law, most of us would believe that we’re capable of fulfilling God’s vision for ourselves and for our world, thus making grace unnecessary. Through the law, we recognize our need for grace. And because of grace, we are free to live into God’s vision as fully as we are able, never fearing that our own feeble efforts will be insufficient. God’s grace makes our own, imperfect efforts pleasing in his sight.

What’s a person of faith to do? Live boldly, work for justice and equity, and trust in God’s grace to do the rest.

Let us pray. God of grace, you gave us the law to show us our need. Grant us the humility to accept your grace, that we may be emboldened to live according to your vision. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.