Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:5-9 NIV)
The world of credit has always fascinated me. Throughout our marriage my wife and I have only owned one credit card. Well, actually, we have owned several physical cards, but we are still operating on the same line of credit we opened up with a bank in downtown Lexington, Kentucky 33 years ago. Over the years our credit-line has passed from bank to bank through mergers and acquisitions, and now our card actually reflects the name of our main bank.
From time to time, a bank officer will encourage me to open up a second line of credit. I am told if I do, I will have better credit. This doesn’t make any sense to me. How can my credit improve by putting money on two credit cards instead of one? I am also told I can switch my money to a card with a better rate interest rate? But isn’t it better to pay off my balance every month so I don’t have to worry about interest? It almost sounds like someone wants me to owe more money, so I will pay more interest, so….. Ooooooh! I get it! Such is the world of credit as we know it.
But as I understand credit, in its most conservative sense, it involves an allowance for something I can’t afford. It is not a scheme to create debt in my life, but an acknowledgement that debt already exists. In its purest form, credit is a merciful means by which I can be released from a burden I cannot carry.
This is also how we define God’s grace. God doesn’t pour out mercy in our lives to put us deeper in debt. He doesn’t convict us of sin so we will be more burdened. Rather, He uses conviction to drive us to repentance, which puts us in a place where He can credit us with righteousness.
A “credit of righteousness” is God’s way of removing a burden we cannot bear. We are not righteous, but He puts us in a right relationship with Himself when we choose to follow Him by faith. In New Testament terms, we do this when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness by paying our debt of sin on the cross, and by faith we receive His righteousness. Some people speak of the righteousness God “imputes” to believers through Jesus. “Impute” is somewhat of a synonym for credit and it used in some translations. It means the righteousness Jesus earned by paying our debt is transferred to our account, or imbedded in our being.
The difference between even the most conservative credit line in the world and the credit of righteousness is that we have to eventually pay off the former. However, we couldn’t pay off our credit line of righteousness even if we wanted to. So Jesus not only does not want us to be more indebted, but rather He doesn’t want us to be indebted at all. As a result, we are free to spend our life in sacrificial service to His kingdom, instead of insanely trying to pay off an impossible debt. Now that’s credit! And while I am not expected to repay it, I want to spend the rest of my life sharing the same grace with others. God sure has a crazy banking system.
Dear God, thank You for giving me the credit I don’t deserve. In Jesus’ name, Amen.