146. Blessed are the righteous.
David spoke of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does will never count against him." (Romans 4:6-8/Psalm 32:1-2) Abraham too had discovered this matter somewhere along the way. He therefore believed the Lord rather than work for his righteousness. 'If, infact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about - but not before God ... However to a man who does not work (to attain a righteousness) but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.' (Vs 1-5) So did Paul discover this matter later on! Having found it, he wrote: 'But now a righteousness from God apart from the law has been made known to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.' (Romans 3:21-24) The earlier we find it for ourselves like Martin Luther, the better for us or else we would have wasted our efforts in trying to be justified by our works. Doing good works to be justified is not the same as doing good works since you are justified. One has its rewards given on earth by men while the other has its rewards given in heaven by God. "Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have NO reward from your Father in heaven ... So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets ... to be honoured by men. I tell you, they have received their reward (on earth) in full." (Matthew 6:1-2) Once we discover this blessedness, our works are no longer a burden to us, as it is for the Gentiles who have to sacrifice much to appease their gods but our God has made peace with us through the eternal sacrifice of his Son. 'Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? Abraham received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them ...' (Romans 4:9-11) We Gentiles who have discovered this righteousness have been blessed along with Abraham. We are blessed to be a blessing to the world together with him. 'So, those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the main of faith.' (Galatians 3:9) Amen.