Monday, April 27, 2015

Knowing Brings The Pain

I think perhaps now I am beginning to understand the gift that has been given me in this life. It saddens me to some degree. But when I compare that pain to the hope that I now have been given, there is nothing . . . nothing that can compare to the joy that awaits me now. A joy that awaits us ALL.

Coming from the world as I did, the concept of a gift like the one I was given was difficult for me to grasp - especially the size of the gift, and just who it was who was doing the giving. There was little knowledge about what was coming, little foretaste of the things that would happen, not only to me but in the lives of those I love as well.

I don't know about how you feel about this but when something does something for me I like to reciprocate. Like if my friend brings me breakfast in the morning at work I like to return the favor. If someone lends me some money I like to pay them back, with interest. That's just the way I am.

I read a few verses a several weeks ago that bears repeating right now. As you read them, try to grasp the meaning of what is being said.

"6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (That's you and me) 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God." - Romans 1:6-9

Jesus died for me. I struggle with that. It bothers me that my sin caused Jesus to go to the cross. How am I EVER going to pay THAT back. The fact that God does not want me to pay Him back bothers me as well. I struggle with God's grace because I am totally undeserving of it. And I do mean . . . totally.

So what do I do? Well, I did the only thing I could think of. I offered Jesus MY life in return.

Twice in the book of 1 Corinthians Paul reminds us that we "were bought with a price." Do you know what they call it when someone pays a price to purchase a human being? It's called slavery. I am now a slave of Christ. And I am more than okay with that.

When I consider what that means and the price that has been paid, it's really not a bad deal at all. But I still feel incredibly indebted to God for grace and forgiveness. The debt really makes me want to pay God back by being obedient.

I watch the world as it goes by. I see many professing Christians leading lives contrary to God's wishes. It bothers me that they do that. It also bothers me when I do that. It bothered Paul as well.

"15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." - Romans 7:15-20

Confused? Frustrated? You bet!

I guess it's good that I feel frustrated over the fact that I cannot keep from sinning. No matter how many times I repent and seek God's forgiveness I will still desire not to sin. It is when we DON'T feel remorse for our sins that we are not forgiven.

There is great joy in knowing that someone would literally die for me. Yet, at the same time, there is great sadness when we realize WHY that had to be done. And when we see people we love not grasping the reality of what has been done for them it hurts.

Faith without works is dead. James told us that. If we are truly saved scripture says we will show evidence of that in our life. Works do not save. Physical baptism does not save. It is the baptism of the spirit that gives rise to a transformed life and works done in the spirit. I pray for those who do not live the life Jesus called us to live.

So, if you see me staring off into space . . . no smile on my face . . . I am thinking. I am not depressed. I have tremendous compassion for the lost, I have empathy for the false converts because I was one once. I pray for each of us to more fully embrace Jesus. He gave up His life for us. What have we given up for Him?

Jesus Paid It All - Kristian Stanfill

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