Scripture Reading: Romans 4:1-25, Psalm 32:1-2, Ephesians 2:4-7
Let me tell you what everybody’s talking about these days: kale. I know, first telegrams were all the rage, later to be followed by fast food drive-thrus, “The Electric Slide,” and space travel. But now we’ve finally peaked with an affection for curly leaves that sprout from the ground.
At first, I really thought I was missing out. Kale seemed to be every celebrity’s best kept secret, every magazine’s healthy choice, and every grocery cart’s consistent companion. So, I tossed a bunch of kale into my produce bag and raced to the checkout line, anxious to taste this treat of the century. In the car, I tore the stem off like a cupcake wrapper, stuffing a handful of leaves into my mouth. I wanted to like it more than anything, but friends, gag reflexes don’t lie.
In contrast to the controversial kale, it would be difficult to find someone who didn’t like Abraham. His popularity was well-deserved, his reputation flawless, his character impeccable. The Jews looked up to him as a forefather paving the trail of faith, a man whose righteousness, they hoped, would inspire their own. If they were anything like me, they’d stuff themselves silly with anything that promised a chance at gaining his status.
Perhaps some Jews tried to duplicate Abraham’s righteousness with their own try-hard attempts at earning favor with God. But no matter their determination, the results would remain bitter and unsavory. Exhausted, they might look to him and wonder, How does he do it?
I asked the same of my friend Amanda, who eats a salad for lunch every single day and, consequently, is very well versed in the area of all-things-kale. She laughed, explaining that no one eats kale plain. Apparently (you probably already knew this), you drench it in dressing, blend it in a smoothie, or soften it with olive oil. By itself, kale isn’t the star ingredient, but when covered in other flavors, it gets all the credit for being delicious. Abraham’s secret had a similar flavor: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).
At first glance, it’s easy to assume that if anyone could achieve righteousness, it would probably be a guy like Abraham. But like you and me, he had sin pumping through his veins. And so Abraham is not the achiever in this passage—God is. Abraham simply believed God and His promises.
Now to the one who works, pay is not considered as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on Him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.
- Romans 4:4-5
Hear this good news, friends. Because Christ was righteousness in our place, we, too, are drenched in His goodness, credited with His coveted status—we’re the very fragrance of Christ before our Father (2 Corinthians 2:14). May we always believe with the faith of Abraham, receiving God’s promises with open hands and thankful hearts. Amen.