Someone called me a kind person today. Someone who doesn’t know me very well.
Me, I know myself. And so, when this Bible passage was read out last Sunday in church, I burst into tears:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Am I patient and kind? Yeah, some of the time… depends… depends how annoying the other person is, depends how hungry or tired I am, depends what’s on my mind, depends…
Not insisting on my own way? Hmmm…
Not irritable? well, not all the time, obviously…
You see, looking in the mirror of God’s word, I see the real me and it’s not a pretty sight.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
And in that same chapter about love, I’m told that if I don’t have love, no matter what other credentials I hold, I’m nothing but a loud and noisy gong. No matter how super spiritual I might appear, no matter how wise and learned, no matter how much I might help others – without love I’m nothing. And this love, the love described in that passage – that’s so far from where I’m at!
Oh, I hear you say, don’t worry, we’re all in the same boat, nobody lives up to those standards all the time, chill out, you’re only human…
But the word of God is piercing my heart, and there’s only one remedy:
Looking in the mirror and seeing myself as I really am – it reminds me how much I need Jesus. He is my only hope. He is the one who did live up to these standards, he is that love that’s described in that passage, and since I have put my faith in him and been baptized I can hold on to this, and only to this:
Thanks be to God, it is the righteousness of Jesus that enables me to stand, that gives me the right to approach the throne of grace and call the Creator of the Universe my Father, my loving Dad. I don’t live up to his standards – and yeah, it’s good to be aware of that and to actually want to do better, because I love God and want to please him – but since I’m in Christ I don’t need to wallow in guilt.
In the Jewish calendar it’s a special time of year right now, when those who follow Orthodox Judaism are spending time in reflection, examining themselves in preparation for New Year and the Day of Atonement, when Jewish tradition says we’ll be judged according to our behaviour in the past year. Self examination is a good thing – I’m just grateful that I can do it without fear and trepidation, I can do it knowing that my sins have been atoned for and that, because of my faith in the Messiah (that’s what the word Christ means), his righteousness is credited to me and I am free from condemnation.
Thank you, Yeshua, my Messiah, my Saviour, the Lamb of God who died for my sins.