I think the title is obvious, right?
If you ask me for $20, and I have nothing, I can’t give it to you.
It’s simple economics.
So I’ll get right to what I’m thinking here; if a friend, spouse, child, needs mercy and understanding, and I haven’t received that same mercy and understanding from the almighty God… if I don’t own it, I can’t give it to them.
Last night, I tried to be understanding with my oldest girl, Allie. In one way I was hacked off. (it didn’t help that I was sick either) In another way, I saw in her this tendency that she has to not speak up what she’s actually wanting or feeling. I tried to draw the truth out of her, but all that came out was condemnation. In fact, my wife thought I was blatantly calling her a liar.
I never said those words, but with what tone I was giving off, I may as well have.
We excused the kids from the room and proceeded to fight. It was a messy fight, the kind where you’re not entirely sure what you’re actually fighting about. But something that Yvonne was trying to say to me hit me hard, and it made me want to stop the whole thing.
What I heard in my heart was that I was treating Allie, her and the kids the way that I treat myself.
I really hate me, when it comes down to it. I think I’m in the way all the time. To put it blunt, I often feel like people’s lives would be a lot easier if I wasn’t around to make them so much more complicated. I pick myself apart and have these standards that I simply can’t live up to. And when I don’t live up to them, I have to punish myself.
Lately, however, I’ve been really digging into Romans. I used to read that book and feel like I was reading an algebra lesson. Now, not so much. In fact, there’s some really good news in there. At least, it’s good news if you choose to accept it.
The Gospel, that Christ is Lord, that we have his help, that he actually and personally cares to help us get through this and that there is a living, breathing, Kingdom waiting with open arms for us is really stinkin good news.
People are always saying “The Gospel is free!” and stuff like that… I don’t know, I think that the Gospel costs a lot. I think that accepting the Gospel, actually costs everything.
The Gospel costs my whole life. And there’s a specific part of my life that I have not wanted to give… my own righteousness. The idea that I can warrant the love of God… that I can make it… that I can get it right enough to make him happy.
It’s in every single one of us. A pharisee. A self-righteous jerk that wants to grunt through and get it right enough that we can boast in our own efforts, rather than the finished work of our Lord and Savior.
So, what can be done. Who can save this sinful man that I am.
In Christ… that’s all that I need to be. In… IN Him.
What does that mean? In his Church, In His will… nestled up right inside his heart.
I see that when I focus on trying to get it right, trying to have the right answers, trying to be sure that I’m making the right plans… right. right. right right RIGHT!!! I am only focusing on being right.
But what does a good slave do with their master? He watches what the master is doing and follows his lead. There’s no question of right or wrong.
What does a good child do with their father? They watch, and follow where he leads… no question of right or wrong.
It’s my life, for his life.
I heard a song lyric the other day about wasting years eating rotten fruit from a rotten tree. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, or rather, the tree of the knowledge of right and wrong, is rotten and bears only rotten fruit. It’s dead.
Ah, but the tree of life, it’s so sweet and good. And we have to simply take it.
I’m seeing more and more that to accept the forgiveness and mercy of God, the fact that he knows my weakness and inability, and loves me and wants me near him anyway. It blows my mind. It’s like Peter, sitting there after Christ gave him that massive catch of fish, and he sat there on the ground saying, “Get away from me, Lord. I’m disgusting. You don’t even know how nasty I am…” But Christ wrapped around him.
We want to earn it, instead of accept it. I’ve wanted so bad to earn it, to warrant it… but I can’t. And my God has been so, so good to me.
May I learn to embrace it… meditate on it… to actually receive it and let it break through my soul and crush that nasty liar in me. It takes some very open arms, and a lot of giving up the grunting, and simply living in Him.