Perhaps you know some people who think they aren’t just as flawed as you are. I’m one of them, only my position is a little bit different. I’ve been thinking I’m not just as flawed, I’m infinitely more flawed than everyone else.
I’ve always related to Paul’s “chief of sinners” summation. To the point that I was sure it would have been more appropriately assigned to me. I am enormously more awful than everyone else. To the degree I was equally certain that I needed to be more obedient and more adherent to the tenets of Scripture because, well, I was always on the verge of being the black sheep in heaven too.
I have written and taught from the perspective of grace for everyone but myself. I’m too on the verge of being an utter failure and disappointment to hope for that same grace I believed He bestowed on His children. Sure, I understand I am a child of God, but I’m more like the red-headed stepchild variety.
It never dawned on me how much I have viewed God like my parental units. I could never see or admit that I lived from a works based perspective while teaching from a grace-for-everyone-else position. No, for me it was screw up and expect the punishments to ensue.
I know works don’t earn us any greater love. I know they don’t determine salvation. But given my upbringing, I also know that if you’re not good enough, obedient enough, the wrath comes (and sometimes it comes when you don’t even know what you’ve done). What I didn’t know, was that I was treating God like that, like He held me (specifically me) to a higher standard because I was/am so much worse a sinner than everyone else.
I spent some time in Hebrews 3:7-19 and 2 Peter 2: 20 today. I sent it to friends wondering how they saw that equating with grace. It didn’t add up for me. It seemed to intimate exactly what I have believed about how I have to live my life.
This afternoon I got a text from a woman who is becoming a very treasured friend, an immense piece of iron by which I am frequently sharpened. She asked, “What is our hope against hardened hearts?” (You’ll need to read the verses to get this!) I replied, “Obedience.” She pressed on, “How do we obey?” And I wanted to write “By doing what we’re freakin’ supposed to.” But instead, where she was going hit me like a semi in the pouring rain on I-4 (which is where I was, stuck in traffic).
I asked if she could talk and she called. “You’re brilliant!” I told her. “I know where you were going with this! Jesus! We obey because of the grace of Jesus.” It was an epiphany! I’ve been told I hold myself to a too high standard, that I beat myself up when I fail, and that I’m incapable of accepting His grace. I see now, why! Because I’ve been believing that I’m not just as flawed as everyone else, I’m worse. But that’s a lie! One sin is as all sin, one commandment break, breaks them all. We have all fallen short, none more than the other. I’m just as flawed as you are and that’s cause for rejoicing!
Thank God His grace is truly sufficient for me and you!