(Photo: Harvest Ministries)
We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.
— Philippians 1:3
A homeless man was standing on a street corner, asking for money, when a well-dressed attorney came walking by. The attorney looked at him and said, "Haven't I seen you somewhere before?"
The man recognized the attorney and said, "Remember third-period English in high school?"
"You sat right next to me," the attorney said. "What happened?"
"I just fell on hard times."
The attorney said, "Don't say another word." He pulled out his checkbook and wrote out a check for $500. Then he said, "I want to help you out. Take this money, get cleaned up, and get a new set of clothes. Don't thank me. It's the least I can do." And off he went.
With the check in hand, the man made his way down to the bank where the attorney's account was. But when he saw how nicely dressed the people were and how clean and tidy the bank was, he felt unworthy and didn't go in.
The next day, the attorney was walking down the same street when he saw the same man asking for money. He said, "What are doing here?"
The man said, "I felt ashamed. I didn't feel worthy to go into the bank and cash your check."
The attorney told him, "That check has my signature on it. You take that down and cash it. It's not based on who you are. It is based on me. My signature is on it, and it is good. Cash it."
That is what God has done for us in justification. God's grace has been extended to us. We are wrong when we think we have to do something to somehow earn it.