Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.’ For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith.’ But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, ‘Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’— in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
The elegant lyrics of a track titled “Thank You, Jesus” (Hillsong) roll out, “Grace that flows like a river, washing over me, fount of heaven, love of Christ, overflow in me. Thank you Jesus, you set me free, Christ my saviour, you rescued me.”
This Hillsong song neatly summarises a contemporary rendering of Galatians 3: 6-14. Here St Paul teaches that God’s grace in Christ displaces the demands of Law. Paul counsels: live trusting in the grace of Christ for the Law cannot save you.
Paul’s letter was a circular to all the communities in the Roman province of Galatia. He appeals to Christians there not to be pressed into Judaizer theology but to rely exclusively and completely on the grace of Christ.
Incredibly, it is a discussion that never seems to lose its relevance to the Church. In an age where ‘law’ seems to have lost its stranglehold on society, we still need to be reminded to rest in, to trust in the grace of Christ.
If ‘grace’ is God’s unmerited favour, then where in your own life today is Christ’s grace evident? How do you grace others in your personal life, church community, and world? The challenge of Scripture to us is to give grace as much as you have received it. Will you pray for one person in your circle who needs you to show them grace today.
Loving God, your grace is infinite in depth and width and height. Fill me – and your Church today, with your Holy Spirit so that we may be gracious to all whom we meet. Free me from self-reliance and use me in this way today, to your eternal glory. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
The Rev’d Craig Morrison, Randpark Ridge United Church, Johannesburg, a Minister of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa