Beware those Bible verses that start with Beware of the Scribes/the Pharisees – when Jesus is pointing out those other people’s faults, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll find he’s also pointing a finger at you. Because, guess what, we’re all of us sinful humans.
So yes, there was a painful moment for me in church yesterday – but that’s part of the deal, it’s part of what sermons are for. The world out there offers all kinds of platitudes to make us feel better, but what I really need for real lasting personal growth is God’s honest truth.
And God’s challenges come in an amazing package: open the box and you find painful truth side by side with love and grace, stuck together so that they’re inseparable. Yesterday in church, after a sermon that hit me right between the eyes and brought me to tears of repentance, I heard God say: get up, don’t wallow – and this is something he’s been teaching me: when I realise I’ve messed up/I’ve been messing up in a particular way, I need to confess it to God but then just leave it there and get back to focusing on Jesus, not on my sin!
Because the antidote to sin is Jesus – what he has already done, once and for all. Focusing on him and what he’s done for me – that fills me with such gratitude that really the more I do that, the more unattractive sin becomes. Forget the wwjd bracelets – what helps me to be more gracious and more like him is contemplating What Has Jesus Done. That just puts everything else into perspective! And it reminds me that in him I already have everything I need!
God is an amazing father. He loves me as I am, unconditionally, but he loves me too much to just leave me as I am – he is constantly working on teaching me better ways. And his discipline comes not with the temporary bandaid of platitudes, nor with an uncaring “just get on with it” – no, he offers me the help I need, he gives me the strength, the courage, the wisdom I need, everything I need in order to change. And above all that shines the beautiful rainbow of the assurance he’s already given me: that through the blood of Christ I am forgiven! Whatever else happens, I know I’m loved by God forever, and nothing can separate me from this love.
Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven
Who like thee His praise should sing
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven
Praise the everlasting King