By Russ Ramsey
I once was talking with my mom about how we do allowances for our kids. I said to her, “Remember how you used to do it when I was a kid? You’d put all those little sticky notes on the fridge with chores and dollar values on them, and we’d take them off and put them in a pile as we did them?”
Mom said, “Oh, we tried all kinds of things.” “Really? That’s all I remember,” I said, surprised. “I think we tried that method out for a few weeks, but that’s it.”
It’s funny how we remember the passage of time, isn’t it? There are things I did as a kid for only a few weeks, which I remember as having done for years on end. Now a parent myself, I try all sorts of things with my own kids that might only last a week or two, but I bet when they’re grown, they’ll have memories of some of those things and think we did them all the time.
Here’s my point: the older we get, the more trouble we have remembering how things actually happened. We compress timelines. We think we did certain things all the time when we actually didn’t. And some things we did do all the time, we may have forgotten entirely. We can begin to lose our hold on the foundational truths of what really happened.
This is not so with God.
In today’s passage from Romans, Paul reminds his readers that God has been at work among His people for a long, long time. The Christian faith is undergirded with realities that have stood since before we were born and will remain long after we’re gone.
God has given gifts and issued calls to His people that we are likely to forget. Paul’s point is this: Whether we remember them or not, God’s gifts and callings stand. Our memory of them, or lack thereof, does not erase them (Romans 12:6–8).
God’s gifts are what He gives us; His calling is where He leads us. In our passage, Paul is referring to the gifts God gave Israel (listed in Romans 9:4 as “the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises”) and their calling, which is the promise of salvation. These, Paul says, are irrevocable.
As with Israel, God gives us both an eternal calling to the life to come as well as gifts to use in this life here and now. We cannot “forget” them away. Passages like Romans 12 remind us that God has been at work since the beginning of time. God knows our hard-heartedness and sin better than we remember it, and He gives us a mercy greater than we suspect we need.
Admit that your memory, when it comes to sin and grace, can sometimes get a little fuzzy. And when you do, rest in the fact that God’s promises do not hinge on our ability to remember them. He remembers them perfectly, and they are irrevocable.