Sunday, October 20, 2013

There are times when I don’t just feel inadequate to the task God has set before me ... I feel disqualified from even pretending to show up for it. The too-frequent results of my pride and selfishness rise up to mock my weak attempts at anything resembling a walk with God, much less any authority I might have to speak for Him. Who wants to listen to a hypocrite?

There’s grace for that, I’m reminded.

I shrug, feeling like there isn’t. Not this time. I don’t deserve grace—and after all, the whole trouble started with my thinking I deserved something from God.

No, the Holy Spirit’s voice presses back, more insistently, we don’t deserve grace. And that’s the whole point.

It’s an incredible paradox, this story we find ourselves part of. A fallen people, loved relentlessly by their Creator, the very One they’ve wronged ... then He Himself comes as their Redeemer, dying to pay the penalty for their sin and rising again to prove His dominion over death itself. All they need to do is accept that payment as their own, and the grace becomes theirs.

But that’s so unfair, we argue. It’s—unjust. Why should we get off the hook so easily? Why would God even DO that?

And what’s our part in it ... I mean, doesn’t a good story ending require that we work for it?

Yes. It’s our role to accept grace. Accept the gift.

My oldest son just returned from this wonderful evening out with a young lady he’s seeing. What if she’d refused his efforts to show her courtesy, had declined the expensive meal they shared on the grounds that she didn’t deserve having that kind of money or effort spent on her? Then my son’s gift would have been wasted. The pleasure he felt in taking her out would have been ruined, and his heart wounded, because he’d made himself vulnerable in offering this evening to her.

By the same token, I make a mockery of grace by my stubbornly refusing to accept it—to accept forgiveness—on the grounds that I don’t deserve it. God offered us the most expensive gift He could think of—His own Son, His own blood, His own love—and it was His good pleasure to do so.

Furthermore, when I say that this time I’ve gone too far, and I just can’t get past my own fallenness, in essence I’m saying my sin is greater than God. Who am I to minimize Him, and to belittle His majesty?

After all, my accepting His grace doesn’t prove that I’m anything amazing. It shows God as the amazing one, for offering the gift to start with.

Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin....

15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise. (Psalm 51, NKJV)


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