The Gospel, Gratitude, and Giving

Come with me to Romans; open your Bible if you have it with you.  I’ve been studying the Romans Precept Upon Precept study with a group, and it has been fantastic! Paul is the author of Romans and he is speaking to both Jews and Gentiles at the church in Rome.  He talks about the gospel a lot, so let’s look at what he has to say about the gospel.  (If you have more time later, it would be great to go through the whole book marking gospel and then making a list about what you learned.  You will have such a firm grasp of how to explain the gospel to others.  Let’s jump right in to verses 16-17 of chapter 1:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” 

So what do we learn about the gospel?  We learn that Paul is not ashamed of it because it is the power of God!  The gospel is the tool in which the Lord demonstrates his mighty power to save.  What else?  In the gospel we see the righteousness of God.  How does God demonstrate His righteousness in the gospel?  I was asking myself this question the other day and decided to look up the word “righteousness”.  Vines (a great expository commentary) explains it this way: 

“His righteousness is exhibited in the death of Christ, showing that God is neither indifferent to sin or that He regards it lightly.  It demonstrates the holiness in Him which must find expression in His condemnation of sin.  God imparts His righteousness to us as a gift, where all who believe in Jesus are brought into a right relationship with God.  It is unattainable by any merit of man’s own.  The man who trusts in Christ, becomes in Christ, all that God requires him to be, all that he could never be himself.” 

Wow!  This is the gospel friends.  Does it leave you speechless?  This is the generosity He has shown us; “the man who trusts in Christ, becomes in Christ, all that God requires him to be, all that he could never be himself.”  He has to judge sin because He is holy.  If He did not judge sin, He would not be holy.  This holy God demands a holy people who follow after Him, but we cannot do anything to become holy.  So what does He do?  He demonstrates His righteousness by sacrificing His Son, God in the flesh, to take away our sin so that we can stand in the presence of a holy God.  This is the God we serve.  This is the priceless gift He has given us.  So what does this mean for us?  How are we supposed to live? 

I have been captivated by a story I heard a few months ago that demonstrates a life of giving.  Her name is Katie Davis; she is a 22 year old, single American woman, who is also a mother to 14 Ugandan children (yes, you read that right, 14!).  She went to Uganda at the age of 19 to be a preschool teacher for less than a year.  When she got there, she soon realized that God had different plans for her life.  When she stepped into the Ugandans’ world, she soon knew that she had no other calling than to give her life up just as Christ did for her.  Katie stepped into a world where AIDS, death, hunger, orphans, unemployment (to the highest degree imaginable), and lack of education were the norm.  She found child after child whose parents had died or had deserted them.  She decided to take them into her home as her own one by one.  Can you imagine?  Now she has 14 little girls from ages 2-15 years old.  Through her ministry she not only cares for these girls, but cares for hundreds of other children and their families in Uganda.  I have been watching videos of her and reading her story, and I am left speechless by her heart that cannot out-give itself.  She has left everything behind to care for the destitute of Uganda.

Katie gets it.  She understands the gift she has been given, and out of thankfulness to the Lord she is living a lifestyle of giving; loving the lost, the dying and the destitute.  I tell you her story because she is an ordinary person who has been redeemed by our powerful God.  She was called out of darkness and hopelessness, into abundant life and freedom.  How could her response be anything else but gratitude?  Do you feel this same way?  Do we understand what Jesus has done for us?  Let us live a life of giving, not only with the money we have, but with our time, energy, gifts, talents, and abilities.  Start by looking around you.  Is there something you could do in the lives you come into contact with everyday?  Is there a need that you can meet?  Do you know someone who is hurting?  Maybe you need to start with your family.  It does not mean we all have to go adopt a ridiculous amount of children (although it might be for some), but it does mean that our lives should display to the world our thankfulness, knowing that the world needs Jesus desperately.  

 Holly was a part of the first intern program in 2008.  She is also a newlywed of 2 years and is continually realizing the importance of her new role as a wife, as it mirrors the image of Jesus and His relationship to the church.  She puts her foot in her mouth many days and is competitive to a fault.  Her one desire is to dwell in the house of the Lord, to gaze on His beauty and to seek Him in His temple.

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