Every minister of God walks this particular tightrope, though some might aggressively disagree. Our human nature’s, apart from God I mean, dictate that from time to time we cross the line, plummeting in the sins of judgment, prejudice and wrongful discrimination, however subtle.
And we’re bound for this as there are an abundance of situations where our judgment and insight could be lacking. We’re not God and we so rarely think like him so how can we expect to be Jesus-like and ‘universally’ compassionate?
We think ourselves so compassionate--yet we’re not. Given the test, there are many situations that God himself would find us wanting in this area. The most legalistic person reading this will scoff, but it’s true. The most compassionate person will, however, see the irony of their weakness for judgment and predilection for legalism. And this is their ally.
This is why we need grace. This is why we, of ourselves, cannot add anything to it. Are we ‘good’ people? A good friend of mine asks this of people all the time. The base message is, no, we’re not inherently good people. Not even Christians (especially Christians!) are good people. This is no slight on Christians for I’m one, but it is about the church being a hospital--a place for the spiritually-sick; those who know they’re sick go to church to be ministered to and be healed--we go to the Healer. We have a lifelong sickness called ‘given to sin.’ Yet, there are so many who do not recognise their symptoms.
Given a second to depart from the high standard of love, we do. We do it without thought. We do it even when we’re highly trained in a moral sense. As J. John says, ‘the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.’ We’re incongruent and need grace.
So, how can any Christian (especially Christians!) get on their high-horse about legalism and self-righteousness without seeing themselves right there in it? I mean, that viewpoint is bewildering.
Every time I read about someone having a dig about self-righteousness and legalism and pride, I read myself right there in it. I start to search myself; God searches me; I panic for a moment... they’re onto me! I’m just being honest before God. And I hope he keeps me aware of this weakness for the rest of my life.
Awareness is the key. Awareness of this problem can thrust us headlong into grace every time; for it is by grace alone by faith alone that we’re saved, and not through any good or right doing on our own parts! All this, more and more, to the praise of God. Amen!
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.