THE WEEK OF TRINITY XXII – THURSDAY
LESSON: ROMANS 4:9‒12
If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Romans 11:6
In his mercy, the lord in the parable of Matthew 18:23‒35 pities the wretched situation of the servant before him. He sets aside and gives up his rights and says no more about selling his servant “with his wife and children and all that he had.” He could certainly have insisted on his rights, declaring, “You have to pay up; I have my rights and have no intention of giving them up for your sake.” No one could have found fault with him on this score.
But he does not want to deal with his servant on the basis of rights. He exchanges rights for grace and has pity on his servant. He sets him free, together with his wife and children and all that he has, and forgives him his whole debt. This is also what God proclaims through the Gospel, saying to us, “He who believes shall not only have his debt forgiven but also the punishment he has merited.”
Works must never come into consideration here. Anyone who suggests that one can get rid of the guilt and punishment for sin through works has denied the Gospel. That God should have pity on you and that you should earn or merit His favor cannot be harmonized in any way. Paul’s argument is unanswerable, “If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:6). If you pay what you owe, there is no need for His mercy. If you are the recipient of His mercy, you are not paying for it. Hence we must allow Him to initiate His dealings with us and to act quite alone; we must receive from Him and believe in Him. That is what the Gospel is all about, as we see also from this parable.
PRAYER: As lost and condemned sinners, without any righteousness or merits of our own, O God, we have no other recourse but to throw ourselves on Your mercy and love. It is the glory of Your Gospel that it assures us that Your grace alone is our effective means of salvation, in and through Christ our Savior. Amen.