Saturday, January 15, 2011

Comforts from the Cross - Day 7

Random thought before I dive into today's reading. I have been thinking as I read about connections of each day's reading. Lots of thoughts have swirled through my head, but one that keeps coming back.  If I am proclaiming the Gospel to myself each day, what am I learning or what do I see? This is what I see: the Gospel is the answer to "self-esteem" issues.  Maybe there is a better way to say that, but I think our world is all about making me feel better about myself, while the Gospel over and over again shows me that my value and worth is found only in Christ and His work on the cross. The Bible presents me as one that does not do good, with a deceitful and wicked heart.  As a believer, the Gospel is my answer. It is the truth and nothing else is needed. So, if you are looking to become a "better person," I challenge you to look at the work of Christ. It was more than enough and when I put my faith and trust in Him, I find my identity in Him. The title of this book continues to ring true in my life, I receive comfort and hope only from the cross.

Unfazed by Grace?

The servant fell on his knees, imploring him, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything." -Matthew 18:26

"A life of Godliness is impossible without an awareness of lavish grace." This thought is further developed with the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-34.  You should read the story, but I am going to summarize it quickly. A servant owed the king/master money, and begged for longer to pay, the king had mercy and forgave the servant all his debts.  Later, the servant who was forgiven ran across a man who owed him a small amount of money.  The second man asked for mercy and received none. The king heard that the forgiven man showed no mercy to the other.  He was outraged and in essence gave the servant what he rightfully deserved - prison, until he could pay off all his debts. (Not the best summary, read the Bible. It is so much better.)

When we read this story, it is easy to jump to conclusions and think that the forgiven man was crazy for not extending to his friend what he had been given - Mercy!  First, we need to look closely at the verse above, he asked for patience from the king until he could pay.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but many Bible study notes show that what he owed was more than anyone could pay back in a lifetime.  "This debtor thought that the way out of punishment was by working hard... In his pride, arrogance, and self-deceit, he thought his situation wasn't all that bad!" Can you imagine his surprise when the king forgave him all of his debt?  Unfortunately the story shows that the man walked away the same, "convinced of his own innate goodness and ability to deliver himself."

Elyse continues these thoughts in a statement that hammered my heart, "He had too high an opinion of himself and too low an opinion of the king.  He was unfazed by grace."  I would want to quickly say that this story is not me, but IT IS!  Each and every part.  How can I be so quick to condemn the servant when his story is mine?  This is why the challenge is "proclaim His death" each day to myself is so important.  The fact that I do not love my neighbor as myself or forgive when I have been wronged is not meant to condemn myself (like was stated yesterday), but to drive me to Jesus.  The Bible says that we fall short.  Just like the servant in the story, I could not pay my debt even with a lifetime of work. My abilities and goodness are not good enough, not even close.

So, what do I do when I am unfazed by grace? "Drench my proud, despairing, demanding soul in these words: 'Jesus died for sinners.'"  Today, I rejoice in the magnitude of what was accomplished on the cross. My debt was completely paid. I live and hope in grace - unmerited, undeserved, beautiful grace. I rejoice that He loves me in my selfishness and continues to remind me that I been forgiven and set free because of His work. 

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