TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Romans 5:17
Righteousness is a gift. By its very nature, a gift is free. It is not earned through our hard work. This particular gift is bestowed upon us by God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. However, even though righteousness is not merited by our labor, some action is required to receive the gift. Imagine that I wanted to give you a $100 bill. (I doubt you would have any objections to that.) I pull the $100 bill from my pocket and graciously extend it to you as a gift. What must you do to receive it? What action is necessary to turn the money into a gift? As long as it remains in my hand, it’s not a gift. It only becomes a gift when you reach out and take it. So though you did nothing to earn my $100, you must act in order to receive it.
The same is true for the greatest gift of all. There is some action required on our part to receive “the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness” (Romans 5:17). The apostle Paul tells us that the act which puts sin to death and allows us to walk in righteousness is baptism. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4) Baptism is the richly symbolic act that allows us to receive righteousness. Through being plunged in the waters of baptism, we are made right in God’s eyes.
The act of baptism is laid on a foundation of belief, repentance, and confession. We develop faith in the God who can save us, we turn away from past sins (Acts 17:30), and we confess the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In tandem with these steps, baptism is the act that secures our newly found righteous status. Righteousness is a beautiful, indispensable gift. Who wouldn’t want to reach out and take it?
Today I will…reach out and take the free gift of righteousness through being baptized into Christ, if I have not already. If I am a baptized believer, I will commit to sharing this good news with someone that I love so that they can be made righteous too.