Before I begin, I’d like to take a moment to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women out there who have had the responsibility of raising a child. You are truly extraordinary.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with “adopted” family members in our house. Since my parents both have a tremendous passion for their ministry to college students (and just young people in general), we had a few different situations where we opened our home to students for a summer, semester, or even a year or more. Because of this, my brother and I lived in the same room for a big chunk of our childhood, a situation that brought us endless joy from willingly and gladly sharing every possession with each other. Rooming with Benjamin for so long taught me to have a certain amount of value for cleanliness, though; after spending so much time in a room that was perpetually messy, I developed quite the appreciation for time when I could have some cleanliness. With that being said, I was even more excited once I got to college and found out that both of my roommates (shown below) were reasonably clean. I appreciated it right from the beginning, but it was an appreciation that wouldn’t have been so strong without the years spent in a messy room.
Now, my point for writing today wasn’t just to talk about the cleanliness of my dorm room, but rather to focus on an important truth: in order to appreciate things fully, we must first know what it’s like to be without them. I wouldn’t love Zach and Elijah’s cleaning habits as much if I’d always grown up with a spotless room. I wouldn’t miss Indianapolis as much if I had never left for Michigan. And, on a completely different level, if we don’t know the extent of our sinfulness, we can’t appreciate the extent of God’s grace.
We are guilty…
Let’s take a moment to observe what may be my favorite book of the Bible, Romans. Paul doesn’t go into specific detail about the grace of God until he has taken time to discuss God’s judgment. Why? Well, it’s because he wants to guide us to a proper realization of our need for grace. The fact is, we’re all guilty of sin that leads to death. We’re born with a shattered reflection of Christ, something I spoke about in the last post as well. On our own, we can do no good – even “morally good” acts have no ultimate weight if they’re done outside of our faith in Jesus. Sin is a disease, and apart from God there is no cure. This is a fundamental truth for all people to understand; without it, we cannot fully grasp the weight and meaning of our salvation. A proper understanding of our hopelessness without God is imperative for our ability to comprehend God’s great grace. Take, for example, David’s words in Psalm 14:
¹ The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. ² The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. ³ They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.
This is strong language, especially for a culture today that fights adamantly for the acceptance of secular morality and humanism. But David’s point is clear: we are capable of no good works outside of faith in the one true God.
…but God redeems us.
Here’s the part we’ve all been waiting for, the part that gives us hope – God is merciful. After we’ve recognized the weight and consequence of our sins, we are finally able to fully enjoy the benefits of Christ’s substitutionary atonement. God doesn’t require any atonement on our part, he doesn’t expect us to earn our salvation. All that he asks in return is for our faith: that we are willing to trust in his provision and sanctification in our lives. Let’s look at another Davidic Psalm, Psalm 32:
¹ Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. ² Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
David’s praise is not simply on the holiness and perfection of God, but rather focuses on God’s promised redemption for our sin. His realization of his own sin leads to increased gratitude for God’s power to save.
Without sin, there’s no need for grace. If we were able to abide by the law that God has given us, he wouldn’t have needed to send Jesus. Do we, when reflecting on Jesus’ time on the cross, truly believe that we deserved that same punishment? Yes, he died in our place, but do we actually accept the fact that we should have had nails in our hands instead? If we don’t know the extent of our need, we can’t appreciate the extent of his grace. Yes – we are sinful and broken. But it’s through our weakness that we can rely more fully on God’s strength.
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
Have any insight on this post? Let me know in the comment section below.