>Buyers, Sellers, and Givers

>I was studying Romans 3-4 this morning and was struck by the theme of transaction. We are conditioned (and perhaps naturally inclined) to use a transactional paradigm in life: trading, buying, selling, earning. But God upends the entire system…our lack of faith leads to His gain in righteousness, even though He is not unrighteous…therefore, He must be infinitely righteous (Romans 3:3-4). We are finite, though, so to some extent we have to stay within the confines of transaction. We cannot generate evil (which I like to think of as insufficiency) in order to achieve good (Romans 3:8). I sometimes fall into the psychologically comforting habit of justifying a bad situation by saying God will redeem it. He may do so, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t avoid sin in the first place. (In the words of Mufasa, “Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble!”)

We do this a lot as Christians, I think. In church this morning, we discussed how the American economy is based on manufactured need, and don’t we often try to convince others they “need” God by making them feel bad about themselves? Then they might be more willing to buy what we are selling. But I wonder if we do that because we feel insecure about whether we ourselves have something worth buying, worth all that we have invested in earning it…maybe the time and energy we spend evangelizing?
In Romans, though, Paul reminds us that righteousness is credited to us not as a wage but as a gift (4:4). There is God, again throwing out the entire system of transaction in favor of sheer, reckless, and unrivaled generosity. If we could treat life less like eBay (which is not to say that eBay is bad!) and more like your best friend’s birthday party, maybe the world would be a better place.
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