I hate to admit this, but I had a bit of a critical, judgmental spirit last night in the airport. Yes, again. I have repented of this before, and have had to repent of it once more this morning.
I was waiting in the boarding gate for my plane. A well-dressed man, who looked to be in his mid-forties, was chatting up a woman who appeared considerably younger. I've seen this kind of "chatting up" before, and had an idea where it might be leading.
They were both headed toward Memphis, and he was a fast mover. Before we boarded the plane, I heard him ask where she lived. To my surprise, she told him. In case you're wondering, it is not a good idea to meet a man in the airport and give him your address, even if he is the most charming man you've ever seen.
She may not have noticed, but I saw an indention on his left ring finger from where a ring usually rested, and I assumed the worst.
Off I went with critical, judgmental attitude again.
Of course, the interaction may have been perfectly innocent. He may have removed his ring after his wife died and this might have been the first time he's spoken to a woman since. She might have been the age of his daughter and reminded him of her. Any number of innocent reasons could have triggered the interaction, but I assumed the worst.
This morning, I was reading in Romans, but still thinking about the man, when I came to Romans 2:1.
"Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself, for you who judge practice the same things." Romans 2:1. nasb
My first impulse was to defend myself before the Lord. (Yes, I know that's foolish.) I'm certainly not doing what that man was doing, I thought.
Romans 3:23, though, causes me to see the situation in a different light. My sin may not be the same as his sin, but it is still sin.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 nasb
In case you're wondering, my sin is no worse (or better) than yours. Our sins are no worse (or better) than the most sinful person we know. God puts gossips in the same group with murderers. (Romans 1:29-30) It's all sin. We've all fallen short of God's standard.
There's good news and bad news.
The bad news first. Because we are sinners, we deserve death and hell.
Every single one of us. The murderers. The coveters. The gossips. The adulterers. On and on and on. We are sin-riddled people, and we deserve the worst punishment our righteous, perfect God can pour out. We do well to keep the truth of our sinfulness ever before us, if for no other reason than to avoid a critical, judgmental attitude.
We are in a desperate state because of our sin and there is nothing we can do to improve it.
There is good news, though. We deserve death, but God offers eternal life through Jesus.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 3:23 nasb
That's pretty clear, isn't it? There's nothing we can do to save ourselves, no matter how hard we try, so God made a way of escape. He's given us a pardon from our death sentence. There's a catch, though. We have to accept this pardon His way.
Only accepting Jesus as Lord can save us from the death penalty of eternal hell.
It would be easier to make a big donation to a worthy cause or do some heroic action, but God will not accept a one-time "good deed". He calls us to a lifelong commitment to His Son, to the Lordship of Jesus.
It seems a severe kind of mercy.
We give ourselves to Jesus so that we are no longer our own. It doesn't make sense in the me-focused society in which we live, but it's the only way. We accept His gift of redemption and forgiveness and, in return, we also accept His Lordship, His leading, His way.
As if the pardon from our sin was not enough, God offers more. This leading of Christ is designed to be a blessing to us. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has plans for us that are for our good, our welfare, not for evil or for calamity.
We are all full of sin, but God has made a way of escape, and it is good.
Ponder that today.
Jesus is all we need, and the plan He has, no matter how hard, will (in the end) be the best thing for us.
Since we, as believers, are no better than the world, let's make sure we communicate that truth to a world in darkness. We are sinners, just as they are. The only difference between us and them is the hope of Christ within us. Neither group deserves that hope, but it's offered freely to all.
Undeserved, outrageous mercy. Inscrutable grace. Love beyond all measure. Jesus.
"It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all." 1 Timothy 1:15 nasb
#mercyandgrace #sin #savedbygrace #forgiven #disciple #JesusChrist
In case you missed the most recent posts, here are the links: The Costly Bad Attitude and Going Home.
The most-read post of the past week: Death is Not the End.