Thanks to Rebecca of Rebecca Writes, I am still thinking about total depravity (see below). I sometimes envision that doctrine as the John the Baptist doctrine, since it is the great leveler, bringing the high down (yes, you too are a miserable sinner) and lifting the low up (no, you are not any more evil than the rest of the miserable sinners around you). John was called to prepare the way of the Lord in the hearts of all those around him:
As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.
I tend to think in similes and metaphors and can imagine every valley, crooked road, and rough way as desperate sinners in need of redemption but maybe overwhelmed by their sinfulness and every mountain and hill as those who think they are so good that they don’t need Jesus Christ, or maybe they accepted Christ long ago but now are so righteous and holy that they are above us lowly sinners trying to make our way down here in the dust. To be honest, there are times I am the valley and times I am the hill, but I know that God continues to work with me in each circumstance.
Today, it is valley time and I need to remember that he corrects me as a loving father. I also need to keep in mind that his correction is part and parcel of my assurance that God my Father is still working out his plan for my life.
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. (Hebrews 12:5-8)
We all make mistakes; we all sin. What is important is how we respond to God pointing out those mistakes and the sinfulness that so readily besets us. That is what counts at the end of the day.
So I pray that God may grant both you and I the grace and courage we need to face the light of his correction, for it is not just the discipline that is painful, but the fact it is necessary for God to make it obvious that is so difficult to see and bear.
Grace and peace to you and to me as we go about our day.