Years ago, the Washington Post ran a full-page ad. It was titled, “District of Columbia Unclaimed Property List.” It began: “The District of Columbia Office of Finance and Treasury is trying to locate current and former District residents to help them claim money and other assets held in custody for them by the District. Assets are collected under the Unclaimed Property Act only after the holders have first attempted to locate owners.”
Then it said: “If your name appears on the list in this section, you could have money waiting for you.”
What a metaphor for the Gospel. Two thousand years ago, Christ died for our sins. His death was a substitute for us, as sinners, who have no holiness or righteousness of our own. But the great news of the Gospel is that Christ’s righteousness, the very righteousness of God Himself, is now offered us in place of our own unrighteousness.
As Paul stated it: he wanted to “be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).
Yes, for Paul and us, the righteousness that we need is not our own but the righteousness of God that comes to us by faith.
We, however, have to claim it for ourselves. That is, like that “unclaimed property list,” assets—the greatest assets in the world, actually—are there for us. But what good does it do us if we don’t claim it? What a terrible waste, even shame, to have something so wonderful there for us—and yet we don’t claim it for ourselves?
The big difference, however, is unlike this unclaimed property list, the assets waiting for us aren’t really ours. Instead, it’s a gift offered to us by God’s grace.
If your name were written on that list, you’d run and claim what’s offered you. And if you’d do that for earthly treasure, which rusts and can be stolen—how much more precious the eternal gift that’s awaiting you, in heaven, to claim for yourself as well?