A blessed Holy Week to you and yours! I pray that the Lord’s presence is very real and near to you as the Lenten season of reflection and deep contemplation of the cross of Christ turns to the celebration of His triumph over sin and death.
This morning, Eli and I were praying through our daily reading out of a book we have been utilizing lately called The Valley of Vision. This is a compilation of Puritan-era prayers, written in a beautiful older English, poetic style. We came across these words, which struck me so deeply:
Thou dost not play in convincing me of sin,
Satan did not play in tempting me to it,
I do not play when I sink in deep mire,
for no sin is a game, no toy, no bauble;
Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies
not so much in the nature of the sin committed,
as in the greatness of the Person sinned against.
What an opportunity the season leading to Resurrection Sunday is to reflect on our deep need for salvation. Thank God for the hopefulness of new birth and new life that we see reflected in the colorful decorations in homes and stores everywhere. But the magnitude of what Easter means can be fully understood only when we come face to face with our own depravity. So many of us who follow Christ have grown used to His life flowing in ours; we are tempted to forget that every good thing in us comes from Him, is made better by Him. We live in constant danger of being sucked in by the spirit of the age which hints we aren’t so bad, after all. More accurately, the spirit of our age says, “Look at that person - they are terrible! Thank my own goodness that I’m not as terrible as them!” We are shocked and dismayed when people sin, as though every last one of us is not also a sinner needing a savior. The Bible clearly teaches...
Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
no one who does what is right and never sins.
Dr. Jim Bradford mentioned on his podcast recently that it is striking how quickly humanity gave into total wickedness after the fall. In Genesis 4, the first murder occurs, and by chapter 6 the entire world is so sinful and wicked that the Bible tells us, "The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled." We are not good; inherently, we are terribly selfish. We must not think that we couldn't be like the generation that broke God's heart. We can't think that we aren't also capable of the deepest depravity.
We can realize our own sinful nature most clearly the closer we get to God. Looking upon His goodness and holiness reveals just how far short we all fall. Throughout history, so many people have loved God and desired nearness to Him. Think of even just the Biblical record of those spiritual giants who knew God, and desired deep intimacy with Him, and then what a face-to-face encounter with God caused them to do:
Job, who God Himself called perfect...
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.
Moses, who was a mighty deliverer of his people...
At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
Elijah, who was so filled with God’s power that he could shut the heavens...
1 Kings 19:12-13
And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Daniel, so godly that several despots in a row trusted him to be prime minister...
I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless.
Every one of them saw a glimpse of God’s glory, and fell flat on his face with a realization of their own wicked, sinful nature. When we compare ourselves to the goodness, holiness, and righteousness of God, we remember how far from Him we are. We must realize that our sinful and selfish actions and thoughts not only hurt ourselves and other people, but that they are aimed at the most beautiful, innocent, Being of all. As the prayer stated earlier: Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed, as in the greatness of the Person sinned against.
Realizing God's goodness, and not comparing ourselves with others yields real freedom. Remembering that any goodness and righteousness in our own lives is not actually our own, but God's gives us a right perspective. When we remember God's goodness, and our great need for Him, then we are ready to go out and share His love with others. We know what Jesus' death and resurrection has meant in our own hearts and lives, and we can hope for the same for everyone we meet. This weekend, take some time to reflect on our Savior. May your faith be strengthened with a fresh revelation of the Father's great love for us, demonstrated in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. May your life spill over with the goodness of God.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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