“Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”
Since college, I’ve always enjoyed to run. I’m one of those crazy people that consider a few miles as stress-free relaxation. (Unlike my husband who calls it “every other sport’s punishment.”) This winter I ran my fifth, and probably favorite, half-marathon. Thanks to beautiful Arizona winter weather. But, unlike other races, I decided this wasn’t going to be my stopping point… I was going to forge on and run a full marathon just 12 weeks later in April. How hard could that be? I thought rather ignorantly…
After my half, I took a few days off and jumped right into training for those 26.2 miles. That first week, I felt great! But, after just three weeks of training, I was “so over it.” (I had actually started to, sadly, loathe running.) What I failed to factor in was that my 15-mile weeks training for my half-marathon were a cakewalk in comparison to these grueling 35-mile weeks. I just hadn’t prepared my body properly and it wasn’t in shape to run those distances well. I claimed to be wise, but indeed I was actually a fool.
I’d love to tell you that I finished my marathon and enjoyed myself, but that would be a big fat lie. I ended up not running the race at all. The reality was that I just wasn’t prepared enough and didn’t have the time to train well. I had set myself up for a failed dream, rather than a hard-fought reality.
Paul doesn’t hold back from preaching a hard-fought reality. These lines in Romans speak volumes and emphasize in great detail the fallen nature of man – our inability to be without sin (thanks Adam and Eve). Paul is not afraid to paint a clear picture for us that it is going to be difficult. You will fail, you will fall, but it is so worth it! The good news of Christ is worth the difficulty of fallen humanity. Indeed, Christ came to redeem humanity. And beautifully so, it is His righteousness that saves us through His free gift! How incredible!
St. Paul is not ashamed of proclaiming that Jesus paid the greatest price for us, and that deserves our humility. But, Paul’s exhortation within Romans does feel a little abrasive,
“Therefore you have no excuse…” “None is righteous…”
Paul is straightforward because he loves the Romans. He desires that they reach down within themselves and recognize what is painted into our very being – that we are created for God and desire Him regardless of actual ability or want to praise Him. Romans 1:21
I had a natural need to train my body well for the marathon despite the time I gave the training and the want I had to run. And, although this is an imperfect analogy, it's a pretty good picture of what our spiritual life can become. We must be diligent to our relationship with Christ. It’s going to be hard some days. We are going to fail. But, God’s free and beautiful gift deserves our daily humility and our precious time. He deserves our most precious time!
Take some time today to really bring to light the excuses you make when you call a “rain check” on your daily dates with God. Are they legitimate? If not, ask for forgiveness, find 10 minutes, and go on a well-deserved date with your Savior.