Listen to this devotional:
Romans 3:22 – We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. (NLT)
In late November, I joined a group of around thirty people, and we visited a local prison. Our mission was to set up a mini-store and allow selected prisoners to choose gifts for their children. Then we boxed and shipped the gifts to their little angels.
Humility, politeness, gratefulness, graciousness, and brokenness were traits I noticed as we boxed and labelled their gifts. One inmate remarked, "God will bless ya'll for doing this." After five hours of work, our group changed places, leaving the bars and razor wire behind. They remained.
When surrounded by those in adverse circumstances, the following statement often hounds me: "There but for the grace of God, go I." I'm also reminded of Jesus' teaching about the final judgment:
Matthew 25:43,45b – I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me. Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. (NKJV)
Whether or not we visited those in prison will have bearing on the verdict. Faith produces good spiritual fruit.
I have no doubt that many of the prisoners truly understood the meaning of Christmas. Perhaps they discovered it while in prison or already knew it prior to the unfortunate decisions that placed them there. Their lives are back on track spiritually, but their place has not changed. Rectifying decisions doesn't always moderate our circumstances, nor does God always remove the consequences of our mistakes.
Our position in Christ, however, is more important than our place. After describing how terrible we are without Christ in Romans 3, Paul reminds us in today's verse how wonderful it is once we accept Him. Through faith, we are made right with Christ: our position. Neither troubling financial situations, nor broken relationships, nor unfortunate decisions, nor even prison can change who we are in Christ. In Him, there are no prisoners.
Prayer: Lord, help us to take the time to thank You that our unwise decisions don't change who we are in You. Amen.