I’ll never forget the Easter Sunday in 1993 when Bernhard Langer won the Masters golf tournament. As he stepped off the 18th green to receive the green jacket—one of golf’s most coveted prizes—a reporter said, “This must be the greatest day of your life!” Without missing a beat, Langer replied: “It’s wonderful to win the greatest tournament in the world, but it means more to win on Easter Sunday—to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and Savior.”
Langer had an opportunity to boast about himself, but instead he turned the spotlight on Jesus Christ. It’s exactly what Paul was talking about when he said, “We also rejoice [boast] in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom. 5:11).
It’s easy to look for ways to draw attention to our own accomplishments, making mental lists of things that are “cool” about ourselves. Even Paul admitted that he had a lot to brag about—but he considered all of it “rubbish” for the sake of knowing Christ (Phil. 3:8). We would do well to follow his example.
So, if you really want something to boast about, boast about Jesus and what He’s done for you. Look for opportunities to turn the spotlight on Him.
Naught have I gotten but what I received, Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed; Boasting excluded, pride I abase— I’m only a sinner saved by grace! —Gray
You can’t boast in Jesus while you’re preoccupied with yourself.
In Romans 5, the apostle Paul reminds us of our great blessings and privileges as followers of Christ. In verses 1-2, he says that in Christ we have “peace with God” and “access” to God through our faith relationship with Christ. This is part of what he would later call our “reconciliation” to God (vv.10-11). We’ve been restored to relationship with Him through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Laura Brooks, a 52-year-old mother of two, didn’t know it but she was one of 14,000 people in 2011 whose name was incorrectly entered into the government database as dead. She wondered what was wrong when she stopped receiving disability checks, and her loan payments and her rent checks bounced. She went to the bank to clear up the issue, but the representative told her that her accounts had been closed because she was dead! Obviously, they were mistaken.
The apostle Paul was not mistaken when he said that the Ephesian believers were at one point dead—spiritually dead. They were dead in the sense that they were separated from God, enslaved to sin (Eph. 2:5), and condemned under the wrath of God. What a state of hopelessness!
Yet God in His goodness took action to reverse this condition for them and for us. The living God “who gives life to the dead” (Rom. 4:17) poured out His rich mercy and great love by sending His Son Jesus to this earth. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we are made alive (Eph. 2:4-5).
When we believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we go from death to life. Now we live to rejoice in His goodness!
I know I’m a sinner and Christ is my need; His death is my ransom, no merit I plead. His work is sufficient, on Him I believe; I have life eternal when Him I receive. —Anon.
Accepting Jesus’ death gives me life.
Twice in today’s passage, Paul affirms that our salvation is God’s gift, for “by grace you have been saved” (vv.5,8). He reminds us that we are saved so that we can do good works (v.10). In other epistles, Paul encourages us to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14), to be “fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:10), and to demonstrate “an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). Martin Luther put it this way: “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”
In the wake of the shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, many people have felt strongly compelled to help. Some donated blood for the injured, some provided free lunches and coffee at their restaurants for workers. Others wrote letters of comfort or just gave hugs. Some sent gifts of money and teddy bears for the children; others offered counseling. People found ways to serve according to their personalities, abilities, and resources.
A story in the Bible about Joseph tells how he used his skills to play an important role in helping people survive a 7-year famine (Gen. 41:53-54). In his case, he could prepare beforehand because he knew a difficult time was coming. After Joseph warned Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, that the lean years were coming, Pharaoh put him in charge of the 7-year preparation time. Joseph used wisdom and discernment from God to get his country ready (41:39). Then, when “the famine was over all the face of the earth, . . . Joseph opened all the storehouses” (v.56). He was even able to help his own family (45:16-18).
These stories show the heart of God for the world. He has prepared us and made us who we are that we might care for others in whatever way He leads us.
Lord, help me feel the hurt that others feel When life inflicts some bitter pain, And use me in some loving way to heal The wounds that may through life remain. —D. DeHaan
Compassion offers whatever is necessary to heal.
Although Joseph suffered many injustices, God ultimately used him to help others by empowering him to provide food for those who otherwise would have starved. This principle applies to the believer even today. God can help us persevere in our suffering so that we can help others who are in need in the future. In the New Testament, Paul tells us that we experience pain and God’s comfort in order to comfort others (2 Cor. 1:3-4).