Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. – Romans 3:20
This verse reminds me of something I have noticed on Pinterest lately. (In case you do not know, Pinterest is a place to bookmark Internet sites in a visually interesting way. Sites are saved through pictures put on virtual bulletin boards. You can create boards about anything you want- fashion, recipes, party planning, craft ideas… It also has a social media component, so you can see what friends, and even strangers, are pinning.)
I have noticed an interesting board cropping up with a lot of pinners. It is called different things “inspiration” or “by New Years” or “I WILL look like this.” On these boards, women pin pictures of thin, beautiful, and buff women. Women with negligible body fat and six pack abs. Women whom they aspire to look like some day.
I find this habit confusing.
I do not find these kinds of pictures inspiring at all. In fact, I find them depressing. Because I know that I will never look like those women. Unless a magic fairy comes down to speed up my metabolism, change my body type, and Photoshop me every time someone takes a picture, these images are not realistic goals. They don’t make me want to work out- they make me want to wolf down a whole bag of Oreos. Because if that is my goal, and I can never get there, why even try?
That is also how some people may feel when they look at God’s standards for living. I have felt that way myself. Keep a restful day of Sabbath once a week? Impossible- I have too much work to do. Honor my mother and father? But what about when they do ___ or ___. Does that really apply when I am an adult? I can’t do that. Love my neighbor as myself? But my neighbor is a jerk. How is that realistic?
When looking at God’s laws, we might be tempted to throw our hands up in the air, claim defeat, and gobble down that bag of Oreos we are not supposed to have. And, according to this verse, that’s actually exactly what the law was designed to do.
Because though the six pack abs fairy does not exist, our Savior does. Read how the Message translation puts the verses that follow the one quoted above.
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him... Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners… and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. – Romans 3:21-24
Our God is a gift-giver. He gave us the law to show us that we cannot achieve holiness on our own. Then He gave us His Son to make it happen for us. We are not stuck. We are not defeated. We do not need to give up and gorge on the Oreos. All we need to do is believe. The gift of grace is free. Once we realize we need it, all we need to do is accept it.
Now, instead of being overwhelmed by my own sinfulness, I am overwhelmed by God’s love. I could never thank Him enough. I think this song states that truth beautifully.
Beautiful God/ Laying Your majesty aside/ You reached out in love to show me life/ Lifted from darkness into light…/ And I find myself here on my knees again/ Caught up in grace like an avalanche/ Nothing compares to this love love love/ Burning in my heart