Romans 3:3: “Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?” (NIV).

Observation: Paul’s letter to the Romans is a clear-eyed assessment of the depraved spiritual condition of all men, both Jews and Christians. Spiritual darkness is universal without faith in God, for “there is no one righteous” (Rom. 3:10) under law, and all would be hopelessly lost without His tender mercies. His faithfulness, then, is required by any who long for relationship with Him, leading Paul to ask the obvious, “Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?”

Application: With the forethought of a courtroom lawyer, Paul drew truth to its logical destination, causing me to first agree with the idea that His chosen ones do indeed lack faith. Then like a sharpened rapier came the next reasonable part of the question: does their lack of faith have any possible capacity to diminish God’s own attributes?

I am now thoroughly trapped by the powerful jaws of Paul’s reasoning, irrevocably forced to acknowledge that there are indeed key differences between God and me. He is the big and powerful one; I am small and weak. There is within me nothing that merits heaven—no goodness, no meritorious works.  Death is my well-earned destiny. In one short question Paul causes me to recognize the poverty of my supposed goodness and to admit that it is only His faithfulness, manifest at His initiative, that gives me hope of salvation.

God made this clear to clouded Jewish understanding when He caused Isaiah to write, “apart from Me there is no Savior” (43:11), and “there is no God apart from Me, a righteous God and a Savior” (45:21).

God’s revelation of Himself requires that I abandon any thought of my own merit.  My problem is that the idea of permanently abandoning such thoughts is frightful. In the hot flash of today’s resolve, I pack such thoughts lovingly into sturdy trunks destined for my mental attic, easily accessible at the next wave of self-sufficiency. “I have built this thing or that; surely God must have favored me.”  “See how fine my children have turned out; how pleased God must be with me.”

Well, perhaps. But the realization dawns that if He is pleased, it is due to His faithfulness, not my effectiveness. It takes God’s revelation of Himself for me to love and to know Him. Keeping those attic trunks is the ultimate exercise in desperate futility.

Prayer:  Lord, Your faithfulness has come to each generation as it comes to me today. You are the eternally meritorious one; You alone have initiated and sustained a bridegroom’s pursuit of my heart. I gladly yield to You today.