The Other Side of Christmas: December 2

Falling Short of Accepting the Gift 

December 2, 2019
by Luke Moen 

Romans 3:23 (NASB)    
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  
From Genesis to Revelation, Scripture is replete with a narrative of people regularly failing to live up to expectations; yet He used them, nonetheless. This truth should be good news for us all, however I think we tend to forget just how much God uses us despite the fact we continually “fall short” in our lives.  
When was the last time you fell short of expectations? Perhaps it was that time you failed to give grace to someone who desperately needed it. Or maybe you lost patience with someone in the face of adversity and stress.  We have all been there multiple times and will undoubtedly experience it again in the future.
In Romans 3, the Apostle Paul is speaking to a multi-ethnic group of Christians struggling over God’s expectations, arguing about whether to follow Jewish laws or not. In its broader context, Paul’s message to the church was that the laws were not the source of their spiritual problem. The true problem is that everyone (Jews and Gentiles) is incapable of meeting the expectations of God in their fallen condition. Everyone suffers from the heart condition of sin, and although Paul admits that laws can be good for humanity, laws fail to make humanity good. Paul’s distinction here is important—people simply fall short of God’s finish line. Period.  
Looking carefully at nearby verses, Paul makes it clear that the only means to be made good in the eyes of God was to accept, by faith, the gift of Christ; that “by the works of the Law, no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom 3:20). Having fallen so short, believers are only “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24), by “faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom 3:28).
The word justification basically means “being declared innocent.”  Redemption refers to “paying a ransom or setting someone free.”  To summarize, Paul is saying that as Christians we are:  
•redeemed . . .
•through the free gift of grace . . .
•by our faith in Christ . . .
•resulting in our justification before God  
There it is folks. Christ followers never fall short in the eyes of God! We make it to the finish line and onward to eternity because of our faith in the only Christmas gift that actually keeps on giving. Try accomplishing that with an ugly Christmas sweater! I personally would rather put on Christ—He is much less itchy, and you can enjoy Him year-round. That is of course, if you remember to put Him on.
What did you do the last time you fell short of God’s expectations? Did you dwell on the failure and condemn yourself, or did you lean on the grace of God to get back up and keep running towards the finish line where Christ offers no condemnation (Rom 8:1)? This Christmas season reflect on Paul’s words that make it crystal clear: Christ is the gift and answer for a world falling short of God. All we need to do is accept that gift and run towards Him. 

Heavenly Father—please forgive us when we fall short of accepting Your amazing gift in Christ Jesus, whom You sent to finish the race that humans cannot finish on their own. Empower us to listen to the Holy Spirit as He uses us despite our shortcomings. Teach us to remember that we never fall short when we kneel every day at the feet of Jesus with our struggles. Enable our daily acceptance of His help in leading us across the finish line every day, one day at a time. In the name of Jesus, we offer this prayer, amen. 
About the author:
Luke Moen 
Luke is an active duty Major in the U.S. Army and works currently at the Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. He and his wife Tammi have three boys.  He has been a member of Stafford Crossing for three years and serves with the Sunday worship band as a drummer.