“For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” – Galatians 5:5-6 ESV
The hope of righteousness that comes by faith produces an eager anticipation of the eternal life obtained in Christ…a hope which is longed for by every believer. A hope worth fighting for and keeping secure in ones heart. Paul warns here that the circumcision party was adding works to the equation of justification (beware any teaching other than that of faith alone in Christ for justification) and therefore was robbing the hope that is so precious to every ‘child of promise’ (those who have faith in Christ).
How does this righteousness produce hope? First by recognizing that it is not ones own righteousness that the one who has faith tastes, but that of Christ’s. This recognition comes to light by the grace of God when humility speaks honestly to ones own sinful nature; that ones best deeds done in the flesh are equaled to nothing more than that of filthy rags (scripture says that man’s ‘good’ works = menstrual rags). It is His Spirit working in the believer, through faith, that one performs true works of Godly love. Such works will not feed a self righteous mindset, but these are those that can only result in the believers ascribing glory to God…because such works are completely by His grace and granting from start to finish and the believer praising God will sense this to be true both in the experience of it or upon reflection of it as we do now.
In His providence I suppose these works can and often do go unnoticed by the believer; perhaps so that the right hand not know what the left is doing…thereby pride would continuously be slain at its roots. I also wonder how often these works are left undone by believers and what type of judgement awaits us who through slack and apathy stall our Lords call to serve. I fear this for many Christians, myself included.
I can speak for myself as I know I’ve turned aside many times from opportunities from His works. What comforts me though is that my Lord is faithful when I am not; that He is Lord and I am not; that He is the perfect Teacher and I His student; I am His subject and He is my kind Ruler; I am his adopted son and He my loving Father; that He saved me a sinner, not as a righteous man and has committed to conform me to Himself; that He will finish what He started; that He is mighty to save. Oh goodness! He has dealt ever so kindly to me, even when my heart condemns me and my accuser screams my list of sins at me, He has not forsaken me and He leads me to repentance…He restores my soul. Praise God, grace is mine as a son, eternally!
Let me not lose sight of the hope of righteousness; let me let go of the elemental powers of this world; let me fully trust in my Lord and walk in His ways. I know that when I walk in His righteousness I am eternally minded; the temporal is enjoyed and used for His purposes but it becomes necessarily secondary. I pray to do more and more of His works to know the joyous laughter of His praise and glory. May it be so. Amen.