July 15, 2021
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT
A strange phenomenon happens now and again in the body of Christ. Perhaps it has happened to you once or twice. A person recognizes that they are not adequate for life and salvation on their own. In great need, they receive forgiveness and new life from Jesus. Life changes and they become a new person. They become new in character and abilities. Their reputation flourishes. If it used to be in tatters, it is rehabilitated when they recognize Christ and His power. Life is up and to the right.
And then subtly and slowly a new thought begins to enter their mind and actions. “I’m a pretty good guy. Not sure how this church would operate without me. What DID they do before I got here?” Or, the skinny pointing finger of judgment begins to identify groups of sinners who repulse or disgust them. They see people whose relationship with Christ they question and criticize. Self-confidence grows and grows, and they may even think they have an “anointing” that puts them in a realm few others reach. They call out sins in others when their own sins are hurting and discouraging people. They don’t even see this ugly behavior in themselves. Their sense of rightness is so deep that they can see negative traits in others, but they give themselves slack and breaks they give no one else. If they could acknowledge it, there’s a piece of their heart that feels like God was really blessed when they chose to follow Jesus.
Has that description ever surfaced in you? I’ve seen it in me. With great chagrin, I see moments when I have wished the rest of the world was like me. I’m fairly sure Jesus doesn’t wish that. My effectiveness as a follower of Jesus depends on me recognizing that Jesus gets ALL the credit—not just when I am publicly speaking about it, but in the secret thoughts only God knows. If God is using me, blessing me, loving me, it is a sheer gift. I did NOTHING to deserve it. I am as much an undeserving beggar as anyone else. No one is beneath me. The credit all belongs to Jesus. Peter warns us about being “shortsighted and blind, forgetting that (we) have been forgiven of our past sins.”
- Jesus, when a critical thought comes to my mind about another, or a self-congratulatory comment surfaces, I must remember You. Please help me bring You gratefully to the forefront of my mind and remember that I am completely and perfectly loved by You—just like everyone else. Help me give You all the credit in my life, and patiently give You the room to work in others’ lives with Your wisdom and grace the way You have mine. Help me to refuse to interfere with or slow down Your work by inserting my judgments. Amen.