Such a yucky word. Most of us don’t like to talk about it, but we have not even begun to grasp the reality of it. We have yet to grasp beyond the uncomfortable nature of the word and move into a realm where we see sin for what it is. For what it does to us. What it builds between us and our Maker. We don’t see the wall being built one small brick at a time. We ignore the sounds of the mortar being pressed and scraped, each sound signifying a more fortified wall. Much of the time, we are too busy looking into the mirror, applauding our own efforts.
Today, I was reminded of a time when I didn’t feel the need to rely on grace much. I was by no means perfect. As a matter of fact, I was far from it, but I failed to see that. I was reminded of a time when I did all of the “right” things, said all of the “right” things and even knew all of the “right” answers. I was so “right”, yet so wrong. You see, I had missed the point completely. I had focused so much on what sin looked like on the outside, that I failed to see what sin looked like on the inside.
I heard others talk about it. I could even define it, much like old Mr. Webster would. I could talk about it, yet I didn’t feel it. I don’t think I really thought I needed it. Oh, I didn’t think that exactly, and I most certainly never verbalized anything like that…but wasn’t grace for those people that had been rescued from a life of drugs, alcohol and running with the street gang? Oh, grace, it was for the super burdened. Me? I knew church. I knew Jesus. I knew what was right. My few indiscretions didn’t seem like much compared to some.
Oh, but my heart. My heart was burdened. It was burdened with doing all of the “right” things. I was burdened with selfishness and pride, but I didn’t even see it. Those bricks had been being built up, one brick at a time, until I was staring at a brick wall, going nowhere, and thought it was good enough.
You know, it kind of reminds me of a group of people over 2,000 years ago. We know them as the Pharisees. Oh, they did the “right” things, said the “right” things and knew all of the “right” answers. Yet, they knew nothing of grace. They were stagnant, staring at a brick wall, and thought it was the best it was going to be. They crucified our Lord. The very one that came to free them…yes, Him. They crucified Jesus. They thought they were right.
I don’t know if perhaps, marriage or motherhood was the catalyst, but oh, how the Holy Spirit chipped away at that wall in front of me. I felt like there was a broken part of me that I could not fix. Suddenly, I saw my failures. I saw my sin. I wasn’t right. I wasn’t humble, moldable, or soft. I was prideful, selfish and hard. I was calloused, by my own “goodness”.
We can never be good enough. Our goodness can never change our heart condition. It’s like putting a band-aid on a broken leg. We can never fix an inside problem from the outside. Quite the opposite, actually! When grace comes barreling into our hearts like a sledgehammer, the wall crumbles…no matter how fortified or how tall. When the wall crumbles, we have freedom. Grace = Freedom. The beautiful thing is that grace starts a chain reaction. Grace catapults us to a whole new level of goodness. We are no longer trying to band-aid a broken leg, but we are showing the world what it looks like to run! We begin to overflow with the grace of Jesus and are so compelled to serve Him that our behavior becomes, simply, a reflection of our Savior. Oh, of course, we will not be perfect, but with soft hearts, we will strive to be like Jesus. We will strive to love. We will strive for humility and gentleness. We will seek to share our story of grace with someone else that is staring at a brick wall. Their bricks may look different, but they need the sledgehammer all the same. We will show them where to find it.
You see, grace is our rescue. Our sin has left us stranded. Our sin is a heart issue, not merely an act or behavior. Our sin is rooted in our selves, which is why the apostle Paul tells us we are to die to ourselves (Galatians 2:20). On our own we can never be good (Psalm 14:3, Romans 3:10-12), but through Jesus, we are better than good. We are made whole. We are made free. We are restored to friendship with God. We are healed. Now, that is good.
“The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.
God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.” ~Psalm 51:17