Sept. 17, 2020, Romans 4:1-13
Growing up, my mom always reminded me to “keep the horse before the cart” – in other words, to get things in the right order because if you didn’t, you weren’t going anywhere.
In this passage in Romans, Paul wants the early followers of Jesus to do the same thing – to understand how the law and faith and righteousness worked together and to get them in the right order.
Paul is trying to correct the false understanding that to be in the right relationship with God (righteousness), you had to do good things, to follow the Law, or to get your stuff cleaned up. Think of the Law as the cart.
When you got it together or followed the Law, God would invite you into a relationship with him. Think of the relationship as the horse.
You can see that if you need to do stuff for God first in order to have a relationship, the cart is in front of the horse and you’re going nowhere fast.
Instead, Paul argues that Abraham was in a relationship with God long before the Law was even given, which was over 400 years later. Abraham let his relationship pull the cart; all Abraham had to do was believe God loved him and wanted to be in a relationship with him. The horse before the cart.
Now the cart still exists – God wants to transform us into the best version of ourselves and following his guidelines is a part of that process. But following God’s guidelines is the result of our relationship, not the prerequisite for the relationship. Because we’re already in a relationship with God through faith, we want to work with him to become the person he created us to be. It’s in the relationship that we find power, not in the cart.
Horse. Cart. In the right order, you’re going places!
Questions for reflection:
- What do you believe about how you come into a relationship with God? Do you need to be a certain person, accomplish something important, have a certain understanding or knowledge?
- How does Paul answer that question?
- Take a look at your life and ask, do I have the horse before the cart?