Posted in Grace/Forgiveness
Scripture: “That which I ought to do, I don’t do… The good that I want to do, I do not do, but the evil that I don’t want to do, that is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is sin that dwells in me that does it” (Romans 7:15, 19-20). “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
An old Irish folklore tale says that at the time of committal to the ground of the body of any deceased member of the community, everyone present MUST remain until “some good word” has been said about the decedent. Legend had it that the vilest, most reprehensible, and despised man in a particular village died, and after hours of silence around the gravesite just before nightfall, one weary soul finally ended the travail by saying: “Old John was not as bad all the time as he was most of the time.”
It is not likely that very many of us can imagine such a circumstance or such a life. However, any one of us might honestly confess of ourselves, “I’m not ALWAYS the person I aspire to be or even the person that most others perceive me to be.” And I suspect that would be true of a lot of us a lot of the time.
“I never do that!” “I would never say such a thing.” “He never makes an effort.” “She never wants to help.” Sound familiar? How’s your “never” going?
One thing we know will never change is that the word “never” is overused and very likely under-accurate. Despite our protestations to the contrary, notwithstanding and very often in spite of our concentrated best efforts, we cannot control our NEVER addiction. We are all affected and infected by absolutely unintended, unwanted, and unwarranted “nevers” of both omission and commission. It’s just human.
That may be our declaration or excuse. And, for us, it may be true. We can’t always overcome our human ability to commit to or refrain from a wide variety of actions, habits, tendencies, and conditions that we know we are better off without. But whatever the bar set at “never” is or isn’t, it is difficult for us to attain or avoid that bar perfectly and always.
Fortunately for us, even in his humanity, Jesus was not so limited. “Love NEVER fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8). Jesus is the personification of love. God’s love for us is by reason of our profession of faith in and love for Jesus. Should it make us at least a little nervous that God’s love that abounds for us is linked to our commitment relationship to Christ? The way I live my life never fails to clearly demonstrate my relationship to Jesus. Really!
Our human condition is fragile and tenuous. We are capable of living our best-self lives only in fits-and-starts. We are prone to step out of that character very often and with very little provocation. We aspire to and do sometimes appear to be like the Christians described in scripture’s Second Letter of John: “See those Christians, how they love one another.”
Can any one of us declare that we never fall short of that lofty ideal? In truth and reality, even when we are at our very best in perception and, in fact, we are not capable of earning or attaining Christ-righteousness apart from Christ’s own gift of it to us.
The God who created us and knows us perfectly, knowing full-well we could NEVER attain righteousness on our own provided the way. “For our sake, he who knew no sin, became sin in order that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our “never” was transformed to forever, in Christ.
Prayer: Holy God, thank you for making all things possible to those who confess “Jesus Christ is Lord.” Amen.
Submitted by Bobby Fuller