Die to Self-Sufficiency
…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…
Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT
n the upside down logic of lives governed by God’s love, we don’t save ourselves; we trust God to save us. Human wisdom says we must tend to our own needs first so we’ll be strong enough to take care of others, but God’s wisdom says that when we place the needs of others ahead of our own, we can trust Him to meet our needs and desires in ways we could not have provided for ourselves.
Our service to God and to others springs from God’s love for us, and not from the need to earn a place in Heaven; He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.[i] We owe no debts but to love and obey Him, along with the continuing debt to love one another.[ii] We neither owe nor are entitled to any recompense but that which God has provided in Christ.
However, just as the Apostle Paul was able to describe his past atrocities in detail and confess that he was among the worst of sinners,[iii] we must admit to the depth of our forgiven sin in order to be freed from sin’s after-effects. Otherwise we avoid the gaze of the Savior who bears the injuries our sins inflicted, because His wounds remind us of what we would like to forget (or haven’t admitted to). Apart from this humility we will continue storing up treasure of our own choosing as signs for others and ourselves that we really are worthy after all.
Partial repentance is a sad way to live. When we can’t accept the fact of our own sin, we become motivated by a terrible need to prove our value to others and ourselves. Pride works against full repentance, and thus we shore up the walls around a full disclosure of how vile we have been. We do not repent fully because we fear what repentance may require. Thus we doom ourselves to frenetic attempts to build credibility, activity that is self-limiting and fear-based. We become schooled at leaving relationships and locations that remind us of our sin; we become the opposite of steadfast. We may politicize friendships and collect advantageous associations like pearls on a string; we strive for an appearance of intimacy with many and create dependencies based upon need so that we might appear Godly and nurturing. But when these many surface relationships become unwieldy, we must distance ourselves. Self-preservation becomes paramount.
We can never share in Christ’s humility until we die to any thought that we have value of our own, apart from Him. And we can never know the amazing fact of our own inestimable worth to Him until the humility of complete confession of how we have hurt the Son of God enables us to meet His steadfast gaze. To look into His eyes is to see our sin unadorned by excuses, but to our surprise we also see a love so overwhelming, patient, and longsuffering that our hearts break in adoration. To be loved like this! To know this love! It is worth everything; it is worth anything.
Pray: Father, show me how I have sinned against You. Keep me from averting my eyes from You out of fear of seeing myself as I really am. Grant me courage to look into Your face and see my own sin. Grant me strength to confess in full, repent in full, and the privilege of being a part of the healing for wounds I’ve inflicted on those You love. And then Lord, show me how much You love me, and remind me how very much I love You. Lord, I am so sorry, forgive me, thank You for suffering for me, thank You for dying for me, and thank You for steadfastly loving me. Amen.
…God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:9-10