I'm always amazed to read the scathing blast of a Christian self-righteous sermon in print. A couple of Bible passages are always given as a reference to illustrate the point of the sermon. Then the inevitable guilt club is picked up and swung, right at a sinful heart, in perfect judgment.
"How dare you ask God's forgiveness, when you are not forgiving!
How dare you ask for mercy when you are not merciful!" The questions and accusations are hurled like darts at a pulsing target, and when they hit the heart, many things can happen. These accusations can make a person, weighed heavy by sin, feel hopeless, as they suppose that "not even God will forgive my sin." I've seen this happen, and I have also been that sinner, who gave up before I even tried.
What happened to the Scripture, "Judge not that you be not judged? For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall bejudged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Matthew 7:1-2. Have we forgotten Jesus' exchange with the woman caught in adultery? "And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." John 8:11
We Christians, how we love to judge other Christians. We have so much compassion for the lost, but we seem to have very little compassion for the saved. Why is that? Are we beginning to feel a bit holy? Because we're not holy. We are deserving of the same destruction as those who war against Christ, except that we depend on Him; except that the Father sees us through His mercy, His sacrifice, His perfection. We have no perfection of our own.
So, now, before God and my fellow Christians, I will confess, "how dare I." I dare to go to God for mercy, every day, every hour, every minute, because I know that I have no mercy in my heart, except by His grace. I dare to ask forgiveness, again, and again, andagain, because I have no forgiveness in my heart, except by His grace. I go to Him throughout my day, and into the night, as I sin again, and again,with my heart, with my mind, and with my mouth.
I ask for forgiveness, because of my unforgiveness. Then I ask Him to grant me the grace and change my heart, so that one day, I will be able to forgive. I ask for mercy for my lack of mercy, as I am horrified by a murderer, who can commit the unthinkable, then manipulate the court into letting him recite his crimes on the T.V. news. I'm hoping he dies in his sin. I am not hoping for anything good to happen to him. Then I go to the Lord again, begging him to erase my mind, because I cannot forget the horror that I have just heard, and I ask Him, yet again, for forgiveness, for my unforgiveness.
Each time that I repeat myself, begging for God's presence within my sinful life, He comes, if I let Him. He reminds methat David, beloved of God, also cried out in desperation.
"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse mefrom my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clearwhen thou Judgest." Psalms 51:1-4
I, too, have cried out like David, "Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies." Psalms 139:21-22, but I also cry out, "Search me, O God, and know my heart.!" For I am certain that I can trust God to take my old sinful heart and make a new one.
I am certain that when I try to be like Jesus, I am going to fail, utterly and miserably; however I also am comforted that God who searches my heart, knows my desire to be like Him. He knows that when my faith is weakened by anger and outrage, I will stubbornly cling to Him. He knows that I cannot change myself. I can only allow Him to change me.
I am a sinner. A forgiven sinner. Not because of my efforts, intent, or goodness. I am not good. I amcapable of any sin.except for, and only because of, His grace am I saved. I am helpless to help myself, so I depend on Jesus. I go to Him in every ugly moment of my life, confessing, then sinning again; but I keep going. And that is how, and that is why I dare.
Jaye Lewis is a born again Christian and award winning writer. Jaye is also a contributing author for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Jaye lives and writes in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, USA. Jaye is in the process of a re-edit of her book, Entertaining Angels. Visit Jaye's website at www.entertainingangels.org Email Jaye at firstname.lastname@example.org