Links Daily Devotional

‘Better People’

…you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. (Philippians 2:15-16, NIV)

Limited to one word, most of would say that what we want for our golf game is this: better.

It’s a catchall word, one that allows us to think of improvement. Of course, when availability and commitment and expenses and athletic ability get added to the mix, perhaps the word we should be using is this: acceptance. That is, we’d like to be happy with what we do on the golf course no matter how we play. Talk about something that’s really hard to accomplish!

When it comes to the Bible and better, we land ourselves in the midst of some fascinating discussion.

At the core, we find the gospel—whereby Christ’s righteousness is applied to us in spite of our continuing return to sin. Our thoughts, our desires, our words, our actions—these are so frequently self-focused and self-serving. Yet when we turn our hearts over to Jesus, he is willing to cover us with the blood of his grace and intercede for us before the Father. Amazing!

But resident in this gospel truth is the suggestion that we cannot improve, that we cannot get better. Some take this all the way down the line, claiming license for all transgressions thanks to the forgiveness of the Lord. Paul warned the Romans who thought this way that they were on the wrong track (Romans 6).

So where is the balance? Should we strive to be “better people,” or is this only the milieu of legalists who think they are justified before God by their own works? Certainly, adherents of other major religions, making every devoted effort to gain God’s favor or achieve perfection, challenge each other to “live better lives.”

In a nutshell, we must say that while the only righteousness that saves is the righteousness of Christ delivered to us, there is indeed scriptural place for making every attempt to live more righteously, to be better people.

Ruth was described as “better for [Boaz] than seven sons.” Samuel told Saul that the nation had been torn from his headship and given “to one better than you” (David). Solomon described two men, Abner and Amasa, as “better men and more upright” than their commander Joab. Daniel and his friends were deemed by the king to be “ten times better” in wisdom and understanding than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.

No, we cannot attain to the righteousness of Christ. He must layer this over us. But we can, through Christ’s gifting and lead, become better people, shining like stars and holding out the word of life.

Jeff Hopper

June 5, 2012

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