Tuesday of the Week of Lent IV
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all; for I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:9-20)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Exodus 3; Psalm 68; Romans 3:1–20
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2kQhhvX
There are some enduringly endearing southern phrases. One is, “Bless your little heart.” Another is, “Well, shut my mouth!”
Paul’s intention in the above reading is to silence anyone and everyone who would claim to have a special place before God, especially those who might claim pride of place because of their Jewish heritage. The apostle asks, “What then? Are we Jews any better off?” The answer is no! But neither are Greeks (Gentiles) better off, just because they may be more cosmopolitan, urbane or civilized. Paul intends to remind us that, as it is written, “none is righteous, no, not one.” He provides a series of quotes from Psalms and one from Isaiah that point to the sinfulness of humanity from Adam and Eve on. Throughout history, people have turned aside and gone wrong; people’s mouths are full of curses and bitterness. They are prone to violence and don’t know peace; there is no fear of God in their eyes. In short, all have sinned. There is no excuse, no one can justify themselves, no one is blameless before God. “Well, shut our mouths!” We might as well remain silent.
Before God, we might as well remain silent, if all we intend to do is try to explain away our bad behavior or justify ourselves. We are reminded of Psalm 46:10, where the Lord says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” As Paul is making his case against us, he gives no room for arrogance, self-righteousness or denying one’s own sinfulness. We are all guilty. However, Paul is setting the stage for his powerful proclamation of the Gospel. He does not lay guilt upon us to make us grovel or groan. He has no desire to beat us down. Rather, the reality of sin is preached so that grace may abound! This is the function of the preaching of law, to show us our sin and our need for a gracious, loving Savior!
Prayer: Lord God, you are exalted among the nations. You are exalted in the earth! I will be still, and know that you are God. Amen.
Lenten Response: Spend ten minutes being still before the Lord. Calm your heart and mind and receive silence as a gift.
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.