I’ve been giving some thought to the traits that truly inspire me in people, the qualities I admire and enjoy most in them. Here are some that rise to the top: integrity, objectivity, courage, perseverance, common sense … there are others. What about you? What characteristics do you especially honor in others to the point that you are drawn to them?
Composing Psalm 15, David listed some of the virtues God highly esteems in people: blamelessness, truth, justice, honor, dependability, generosity … there are others. These are the traits of those He invites into His presence. There’s just one little glitch (I’ll speak for myself): I don’t measure up. While I value all of these qualities and want to see them displayed in myself and others, I’ve too often proved myself capable of exchanging virtue for vice if it serves the purposes of my own convenience, comfort, or gain. And truth be told, “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt …”1 wrote David. When it comes to blamelessness, we are, in mathematicians’ terms, a “null set,” and we share a problem that, if left to ourselves, is unsolvable.
But God does not leave us to ourselves, and what is insurmountable to us is doable to Him whose love for us is as infinite as His wisdom and whose justice is as perfect as His power to execute it. Is it any surprise, then, that this amazing God who does not tolerate sin in His presence took it upon Himself to make a way for us, the imperfect ones, to live with Him forever? How did He resolve our dilemma without compromising Himself? The apostle Paul answers as simply as it can be stated: “God made [Christ] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.2” Martin Luther called this the great exchange—Jesus who knew no sin took our sin upon Himself, and in exchange, He offered His righteousness to us who knew no righteousness. What an exchange! In Christ, we are ushered into the presence of God.
Then we rest secure in Jesus even as we flourish in Him, for our life is now “hidden with Christ in God.”3 So, when God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Christ who has united us with Himself. And as we live safely tucked away in Him, the Spirit of God transforms us steadily into His image, a lifelong process of molding, shaping, refining, beautifying. This is the promise of our promise-keeping God. What a relief.
Father, it is almost incomprehensible that you would take away my sin and give me, in exchange, the privilege of your presence. Thank you for sending your Son to accomplish this and for securing my life in Him forever. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Christ in me is righteousness.
Click here to read today’s Scripture, Psalm 15.
1 Psalm 14:3
2 2 Corinthians 5:21
3 Colossians 3:3