If we are willing to really examine ourselves; have an honest down and dirty look at ourselves, we will invariably think we stand in the dirtiest stall with the foulest sinners to still name the name of Christ. Our lives will appear to us to be up to our knees in that which needs shoveling out of it. It is the nature of sin, self-examination, and the heart that seeks a closer union with God.
Just as it is a fool who says there is no God, I would venture it is a fool who underestimates the significance of his least offensive sin. I would hazard a pretty reliable guess that the distance between the most sin-burdened member of the Kingdom and its greatest saint is absolutely infinitesimal when compared to the infinite distance between even the best of us and God.
I need to remind myself of that once in a while. No matter how good I am, or how fallen, knee-scraped, or needing a good washing sinful I am, to God the difference is miniscule. As a result the focus should never be on my sin, when I am down about my failures, or on my goodness, when I have done something exceptionally noble. How else can I aspire to be one with Paul’s statement to the Church at Galatia?
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20
or this to the Church at Philippi.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
I bring this up to encourage Mr. McKenzie. My past is more damaged than most. Divorce and my own drug and risk-taking behavior that embraced hedonism with both arms, also deformed the image of God in my soul. But God is beyond merciful. I can honestly say that the Lord in his kindness has restored the years destroyed by the locusts. I should have been dead a long time ago and it is a miracle I have the health that I do.
Periodically, God recalls some particular egregious failure of mine, and bids me deal with its ramifications. That happened this morning on the way to work and I prayed for someone I did a significant disservice to over 3o years ago. I just knew I had to pray for them, begging God to have heard my prayer before I prayed it.
Before they call I will answer;while they are yet speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24
When I left that hitchhiker standing beside the road, they were not in good shape and extremely vulnerable. I should not have put them in that position, but at that time I only thought about what I wanted. Selfish would be a kind word for me at that moment.
So, God brought that person sharply into focus for me this morning and I prayed for their soul, their health and well being, and for their forgiveness (of me), but most of all I prayed I would see them again, in the company of his saints, that they would be numbered among those written in the Book of Life.
It is in God’s hands. It always was, but in a small way this morning he let me feel some of the weight he is carrying. Mercy. Mercy. Lord have mercy.
God bless you and keep you and may he in his mercy always remind you that you are never as good as you look when you are doing well, or as lost as you think when you are struggling to get up from a fall. You, yes you, can do all things through him who gives you strength and he whose word and work is true has promised to finish what he started in you. Remember that, and I pray, if I cross your mind, remember me.
Thank you William. I live in a paradox of finding his strength in my weakness, as Paul said.
What you say about the comparison of all our sin with his beautiful righteousness is true. To let you know, I am encouraged by your words, as they are the truth of the gospel.
As you know my sin, what I struggle with is less of the past but more of what that past has done to me in the present. It is my present weakness before God that is both painful and informing.
There is also that spiritual loneliness of the wilderness experience that seems necessary for my constant leaning toward pride. Deuteronomy 8 has become very instructive for me. I’m convinced God is only concerned with teaching me this one lesson.
With the respect I have for what I read here, I’ll spend more time thinking about what you’ve said. I know the Spirit of Christ is working in us and for that, we can have nothing but the deepest gratitude. I can only find the reason in him, not myself.
I would appreciate any insights you have to offer. I think the present grief in sharing my sister’s loss, as well as the daily burden of pastoral ministry, may blind me to other things. 2 Corinthians 4-5 has become a favourite passage of mine.