“Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you. (143:2)
This year I have encountered grace in a new way. I must confess, I never was sure when I was experiencing it.
I will start by saying the greatest gifts of my life are my family and Montavilla, so read this through that lense.
Our enemy is appropriately named the accuser. He whispers all sorts of garbage into our ears, twisting the well-meaning (or insecure) words of people around us. Growing up in church, as a sort of pastor’s kid, I rejoiced with people when they were radically saved. The more gnarly the story (drugs, prostitution, mafia, gangs, etc) the more readily embraced. I saw the beautiful grace of God in these moments.
However, I wasn’t always (or the accuser led me to believe) extended the same measure. I should know better, right? Instead I was often pre-maturely reprimanded for sins not yet committed, or for doing something that someone watching from the bushes could think was sinful. Avoid the appearance of evil! Also a lot of trouble for guilt-by-association. Beware of the unbeliever! On very special occasions, I was the scape goat for corporate shenanigans.
I was doing all the right things: reading my Bible, volunteering, not kissing boys, telling the truth, blah blah blah… with no payoff besides avoiding natural consequences for these things. No prizes for purity. In fact, the more good I did, the shorter the leash.
I read a statistic yesterday about how 58% of my generation raised in church left after high school, and I get it.
When Jesus expanded upon the law in the sermon on the mount, He wasn’t saying lust=adultery to raise the bar, He was saying “None are righteous NOT EVEN ONE”. Somehow we still took it as a challenge to up our self-righteousness game.
Is there grace for the pastor’s kid? Is there grace for those in ministry?
Jesus really harped on being judgemental. Whatever standard you use to judge other people, yeah, I’ll use it on you. Christians are supposed to be united under the banner of needing the blood of Christ for redemption. Why are we still riddled with guilt and shame? Why are we expecting perfection from each other? Why do I expect it for myself?
The Apostle Paul has the audacity to rejoice in his weaknesses, saying Christ is strong in them. The best feeling in the world is having a friend, partner, teammate, etc who is strong in the ways you are weak. It is freeing and comfortable.
Wait, freeing and comfortable? Is that what is intended for me? Thank you Jesus! Then, which rules am I supposed to live by?
Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.” (143:8)
Walking daily with Jesus; remembering His unfailing love, trusting His leading, obeying, abiding, depending.
HIS righteousness, given to me.
“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I am eternally grateful for this and grateful for the wonderful gift of my family and Montavilla who have put up with a LOT from me, and protected me from much more. Amazing examples of grace, empowered by their unconditional love.
Let’s soak up today’s new mercy. Let’s be people who can be strong in a friend’s weakness. Let’s look to Christ for the way we should go, and let’s give up on the whole Pharisee self-righteous garbage. Also, tell that stupid accuser of ours to back off, cause he’s a major loser. Our fight is with him, not each other, right? (Ephesians 6:12)
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)