March 19, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one.’”—Romans 3:10 (NKJV)
During the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, an interesting turn of events took place during the Men’s 5000-meter run. Specialist Paul Chelimo of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program pushed past his personal best time by 15 seconds and finished the race in second place, earning a silver medal for the United States—or so he thought.
Moments after the race, Chelimo learned he had been disqualified by the officials for “lane infringement,” and just like that, his silver medal and his years of intense training and hard work vanished.
Much like Chelimo, we’re all running the race of faith, as Paul describes in his letter to the Hebrews (12:1-2). But even before we stepped onto the field, every single one of us was already disqualified in terms of our righteousness or “the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God,” as one Greek lexicon defines it. As Paul points out in today’s verse, none of us were born righteous, and all of us have turned away from God by our sin nature.
Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story.
Specialist Chelimo appealed his disqualification, and as a result, the Olympic Committee in Rio overturned its decision, awarding him the medal he worked so hard to achieve. Likewise, in the spiritual realm, our disqualification from the race of faith was also overturned because Jesus died on the cross for us so we could become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). In fact, Paul elaborates on this point later in Romans 3:24-26 (NKJV), when he explains the overruling: “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
Although our sin disqualified us, Jesus overruled the decision! So, no matter how hard we run or work, spiritually speaking, we can never win by our own efforts. But the best news of all is that we don’t have to! While we run our race with endurance, it’s only through faith in Jesus that we are guaranteed the ultimate prize of all—eternal life with God.
DIG: Have you ever been disqualified from a race or competition, or simply felt like you completely blew an opportunity to do something good? How did it make you feel?
DISCOVER: Consider the magnitude of God’s grace when it comes to our unworthiness in the race of faith. What feelings does it produce? Humility? Gratitude? Worship?
DISPLAY: Take a moment to meditate on the truth of today’s Scripture. Then, spend some time in praise and worship for what Jesus has done for you and what you have received in return.
Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.