One problem with Bible-polished rule keepers is that from a distance we all tend to look pretty good. Especially compared to those who don’t keep God’s rules. And believing that we are looking good keeps us thinking pretty well about ourselves, which destroys any thought about how stunningly wonderful God’s grace is to us.
When I taught on Sundays at the church where I served as a teaching pastor, my face was broadcast on three big screens at the front of the church—sort of an evangelical jumbo-tron! I have to admit, I’m not crazy about people being able to see my face from that close range, magnified hundreds of times! No matter how hard I have worked to look my best, my increasingly flawed face—wrinkles, spots, and blemishes—is projected larger than life for all to see. And, as unsettling as it is, I have to say to myself, “That’s you, baby—like it or not!”
Seeing ourselves for who we really are and admitting it is the first step in understanding the richness of God’s grace. Grace becomes an amazing gift when we finally see ourselves the way God sees us—up close and personal, magnified hundreds of times, warts and flaws front and center. The apostle Paul wrote, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
No use kidding ourselves. God is well aware of everything in your life and mine—actions, attitudes, thoughts, and responses. Game’s up! I’m a sinner, and so are you. We don’t need a Sunday jumbo-tron to discover that. What is so surprising is that it is our terribly broken condition that prompts God’s grace and love to flow to us. It’s our blemishes, our sin, and our stupid self-centeredness that makes us desperately in need of God’s grace. And thankfully He is willing to give it abundantly!
When I first got married, I tried so hard to make Martie believe I was a great husband. I didn’t want her to know how selfish I could be, and I tried to veil my insecurities so she’d think I was strong and confident. Inevitably, though, the real me showed up. My selfish agenda was out there in plain view for her and everyone else to see. Guess what? She loves me still. Through the years her love has not been dependent on me being husband of the year or father of the decade. I thank God for that. Her love for me is like God’s love for all of us. It was demonstrated in spite of our failures, not withheld because of them. That’s the grace that God chooses to love us with. And that’s the grace that drives me to want to love Him in return.
Feeling broken today? Or unlovely, out of place, behind the times, too little too late? Are you stuck in a stubborn pattern of sin you can’t break? God’s got you on His screen, nothing is hidden from His view, and still in this moment you are the object of His love and grace.
If you find it hard to develop a heart of love for God, it may be that you have spent too much time thinking about how cool you are. We all need a huge reality check! Seeing yourself as you really are and knowing that He loves you still is a great way to stimulate your heart to express your love and gratitude to Him in return.
- What makes it hard for you to see yourself as the sinner you really are—Comparison, rationalization, excuses, pride?
- Write down the sins that constantly pop up in your life. Ask yourself, “Where would I be today if it weren’t for God’s grace in my life?”
- Who needs the touch of God’s grace from you in spite of their sin?
- Does the realization of the unbelievable grace of God in your life make you feel more free to keep sinning or motivate you to clean up your act? Why?
- What difference would it make if you lived as a debtor to His grace rather than in a self-deceived sense of how good you are?
- Take a few moments today to thank God for the love He showed you in Jesus.