One of the big conclusions that Paul comes down to in this passage is found in verses 27-30.
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
In short, when it comes to grace, there is no room for boasting. God does not accept us because we keep the law perfectly. Nor does he accept us because of our racial background, as the Jews thought. He accepts us solely because we have put our faith in Christ’s work on the cross.
I think because people don’t understand this, two problems often creep up among Christians.
One is the Christian who says, “How can God accept me when I mess up so much?”
Their problem is that deep down, they still think they have to earn God’s acceptance, and because of that, they feel inadequate. They feel undeserving of God’s love. But that’s the whole point. Grace is all about the undeserving receiving God’s love and acceptance.
Nobody can stand before God and say, “God, you’re so lucky to have me as your child. Look at how good I am. Look at all the things I can do for your kingdom.”
Instead, all of stand before God, spiritually poor and needy, with nothing in our hands to offer him. As the old hymn puts it,
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress;
Helpless, look to thee for grace.
The other problem is the Christian who, because they think they’re good, look down on others who are “not so good.” They become like the Pharisees, judging all those around them, without seeing their own failures and need for grace. And instead of extending grace to those who need it, they instead bash them further down.
How about you? Do you truly understand God’s grace in your life? Or are you depressed because you think God can’t accept you? Worse, are you judging others you consider lesser than you and withholding God’s grace from them?
Here’s a good test for you. When you hear the words “amazing grace,” do they touch your soul? Or are they just words to you?
May “Amazing Grace,” not just be a song, but words that penetrate your very soul. For when they do, you will never be the same, in how you see yourself, and how you see others.