We all fall short ...
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. -Romans 3:23-26 NLT
This passage reflects two sides of religious dogma - the problem of sin and how sin is dealt with. Many religions deal with sin, or lawlessness, by offering antidotes that include things like penance, restitution and other atoning acts. For sure actions like these are appropriate responses when a person has sinned. Yet, as Paul points out in these verses, salvation is not brought on by these actions but these actions are the righteous fruit of believing in Jesus Christ.
I love the way that Paul points so much to God in these verses as he speaks of God’s glorious standard, his undeserved kindness towards us and how Jesus sacrificed so much for our salvation. I think this focus separates Christianity from other religions. In the gospel we see that God takes the initiative in the form of his Son. It teaches us that salvation is not about earning God's favor but but responding to his love with a simple yes to his invitation.
Lord, we fall so short of the mark every day. Thank you for sending Jesus to show us the way to live.