Saturday, December 21, 2013

Amazing Grace

Sin. You realize that this word really has only one definition, right? I mean, we can use it in our day-to-day conversation in ways that somehow muddy up its meaning. “Did you eat any of that chocolate dessert? It’s absolutely sinful!” [Cake isn't sinful.] “It’s just a sin that everyone wasn't able to get into that concert…it was that good!” [Inability to get into a concert isn't a sin.]

Here’s the thing about sin. None of us avoid it. All of us commit it. But here’s another thing… we seem to be more concerned [maybe even obsessed] with the sin of others than our own. [Jesus used the illustration of the speck in someone else’s eye versus the log in your own.] Do I have a log in my eye? Of course I do. But I like it better if I can rationalize that the speck is in my eye and the log is in yours.

Hey, Westboro Baptist Church- do you want to demonstrate in front of a place where sinners are? Then why aren't you carrying signs out in front of my house? I mean, there are only three of us here right now but... my house is occupied 100% by sinners.

By the way, have you seen the “Official Sin Grading Scale” that ranks sins from top to bottom…from least to first? I bet it’s an even better read than Letterman’s Top 10 List. I’m kidding…there really isn't an official sin grading scale. But there IS an unofficial list. We all have made one. The thing is…my most common sins are (fortunately) not in the top 10 on my list (I’m glad I’m using my grading scale otherwise….geesh I’d feel pretty filthy and unworthy.)

The trouble is that Sin # 8,341,890 on my list had the same effect on my relationship with God as Sin #1. It means that I am 100% disobedient. I know, I know…this doesn't quite seem us. Sin #1 is far more detestable (to me) than Sin #8,341,890. But I’m not the One that has been offended. I don’t get to set the standard. The One who created me does. Tell one lie and I am a liar. Lust one time and I am an adulterer (that’s right…adulterer.) Think one immoral thought and I’m a deviant. Withhold one thing from someone in need and I am a thief. And murderer? By Jesus’ standard, I am that too.

The good news? The REALLY, REALLY good news? God does not condemn me for my sins. Why? Because of the saving work of Jesus on the cross and my acceptance of His gift of grace, my sins yesterday, my sins today, and my sins tomorrow are forgiven. I have been pardoned. You might not forgive me for my sins and I certainly can understand that. I too struggle with the sin I see all around me. I want people to stop sinning. I especially want myself to stop sinning. I can definitely relate to Paul who wrote in his letter to the church at Rome: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do. But what I hate, I do." (Romans 7:15 NIV) But, I come back to this point…why am I so concerned with the sin around me and seemingly less concerned about the sin within my own heart? Maybe it makes me feel better about myself. Thankfully, God hasn't deputized me to be His law enforcer. If He did, my first action would have to be locking myself in jail... marking a swift end to my career in law enforcement.

58 years ago, when I was born unexpectedly early in a little town hospital in Maine weighing only 3 pounds; for some reason, God saved me from most certain death. The priest had been summoned to baptize and pray some last rites over me. But I was spared. 29 long years later I asked Jesus to take my life and He saved me all over again...but this time for eternity. And since then, sin separates me from Him no more.

Nobody ever wrote a song titled "Amazing Law."

It’s called Grace. Amazing Grace.


Janet Burnett said...

Thanks Mike, this is awsome and I so needed to hear this today.

Mike Toomey said...

Thanks Janet. I wrote this mainly as a reminder to myself...