January 22, 2018
Many people believe that they can be never be good enough for God. In fact, they only think of God as a judge or as a stern father, sitting on His throne looking down on them breaking His rules. As a result, many people feel like a spiritual failure, who don’t meet the requirements God demands to enter heaven. Even those who are committed to following Jesus, recognize that their attitudes, words, and actions are far from perfect. It is very human to wonder about the bad choices we make, and the weaknesses and mistakes that are part of our everyday life. Most of us have experienced the reality of just how often we fail in light of God’s holiness. As our relationship with God matures through the years however, we began to recognize that God is so much more than a judge. We understand that God actually knew us before we were born and called us by name before we chose to develop a personal relationship with Him. In our day to day struggles, we have found God to be sympathetic and merciful, and the better acquainted we become with Him, the more we experience His love for us. So even if we still envision God as sitting on His heavenly throne, our perception of Him changes. We no longer think of Him as a mean, vindictive God, but as one who mourns when we reject His leading, and one who reaches down through his Spirit and guides us back to His ways, and supports us in our daily living.
The reality is, that no matter how hard we may try to be good, we can never make ourselves good enough to please God in our own strength. It just isn’t possible. Jesus tells us what God is like and he then calls on us to be like Him. In the Sermon on the Mount, he said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your father in heaven is perfect,” Matthew 5:48. When an expert on the law asked Jesus what he would have to do to gain eternal life, Jesus asked him, “What is written in the law?” The lawyer answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:27,28. The fact is, that this man Jesus was talking with, as well as none of us, can keep the law or be good enough, no matter how hard we try. Even though some people make a valiant effort to be better than others, no one is really good enough for God. This presents a serious problem for all people in the world today, who adhere to the belief that what they get from God is based on what they do or what they give to God. But searching for a solution for our imperfection leads us to examine what is perhaps the most important word in all of the Bible, the word GRACE. In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Bible says, “For it is by GRACE you are saved through faith, and you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Grace is what I need, but don’t deserve, that I could never repay, but God gives to me anyway. His GRACE is how God sees me when He looks at my failures, my faults, and my flaws.
The Biblical concept of GRACE is only possible because of God’s mercy. Every day we live is an act of God’s mercy. If God gave us all what we deserve, we would all be condemned for eternity. David said in Psalm 51:1-4, “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.” We deserve nothing from God. God does not owe us anything, so anything good that we experience is a result of the GRACE of God.
Mercy and GRACE are best illustrated in the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. We deserve judgment, but if we receive Jesus Christ as Savior, we receive mercy from God and we are delivered from judgment. Instead of judgment, we receive by GRACE, salvation, forgiveness of sins, and abundant life. Because of the mercy and GRACE of God, our only response should be to fall on our knees in worship and thanksgiving.
In the story of the Prodigal son in the Bible, the Prodigal son left home and squandered his father’s wealth. But when he realized his need and his father’s possible kindness, the Prodigal son humbled himself and got up and went to his father. He was truthful when he came back to the father. His older brother didn’t like that his father extended grace to his brother and complained to his father that his brother didn’t deserve his father’s grace. But the father still loved his Prodigal son no matter what he had done. It is the same with our loving God. A relationship with God is more powerful than the law. The Bible says, in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” Under GRACE we have more than our own resources, we have the resources of the Creator God of the universe to help us overcome our inadequacies.
On the cross, Jesus died for our sins, for everything that we have done wrong, past present or future. We were guilty and He paid for the guilt of our sin. When we confess our sins, we are taking care of what is wrong and what the cross already paid for. Being a man or woman of God is a matter of being humble and truthful about our sin and accepting His GRACE and then growing in that GRACE. Someone once said, “We often think we have to change, and to be good in order to be loved by God. But it is just the opposite. We receive God’s GRACE in order that we can change, grow and be good.” God’s GRACE gives us the freedom to face God and face the truth about ourselves in the light of His Word. It is why we can conclude that when it comes to being accepted by God, it is not our ability that counts, it is about our response to His ability that allows us to experience His GRACE.