1 Timothy 1:15
15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
Heard an excellent and thought-provoking message from our youth pastor Andy Douglas this morning. “How many mistakes do you make”? It was an honest question – and we say to ourselves – “Sure – I make many – or “I at least make some” – or even – “I hardly ever make a mistake any more” But the bottom line is this: we all make them – even when we think we are too spiritual or too far above that in our every day life. Andy went on to illustrate how when he first got his driver’s license – he made 3 big mistakes in the first hour – being pulled over by 3 different patrol cars. He had us laughing hysterically – so FUNNY!! And it was interesting to note – that even though he was talking about mistakes – and ultimately the grace and forgiveness for mistakes we make – I was thinking about those 3 different police officers that pulled him over that night. They could have been ‘letter of the law’ and each given this new young driver – a ticket – but none of them did. They gave him a friendly warning – and the last one said to him, “maybe you better go home now” – which he did. That’s the definition of grace.
This is what God does with each one of us. Grace by its very definition is this: not getting something we deserved. It is not something we have earned. We couldn’t earn it. It is freely given to us. And like Andy said this morning – if we cannot accept the ‘gift’ of grace and forgiveness – but instead walk around with shame for something we have done – and live in bondage to that shame – then we cheapen the fact that Jesus was beat to a pulp and had to endure a horrific death on a cross – so that we could be free from that shame.
Do we continue to make mistakes on purpose. I hope not. No one usually does. They are usually innocent at first – even starting out with great intentions. You may have a huge heart for people and mean well by loving and embracing them – but then something happens you did not plan on. You may love helping people – but then you get yourself in too deep and realize – “I made a mistake” Or you may be naive and think that everyone has the best motives in your world – and then something happens – and you realize that there was another motive altogether and it blindsides you. Every good well-meaning person makes mistakes. Pastors and leaders make mistakes all the time. They don’t mean to – they just do – because they are human. It is humbling to admit you made a mistake – to ask forgiveness or to forgive someone else – when you may not always be at fault. But there are times – when it is all your fault. That’s what God’s grace and mercy is there for. God’s love does not condemn – but rather it renews and gives life and hope to brokenness and hopelessness – bring life from death and joy from despair.
Do we really believe this? Sometimes. Do we live like we do? Not always. I would like to think that when we make a mistake – and live through the consequences of that mistake – or someone else’s mistake – that we gain perspective and wisdom – and we rarely repeat the same one again. Oh – we’ll continue to make mistakes – just hopefully not the one that caused so much pain and hard work to recover from. This is what we gain. A fresh understanding of the love of God. A fresh knowledge of grace and mercy. An understanding of the high cost of that grace, mercy and forgiveness – offered in an ever abundant supply from Jesus. But so often instead of believing this – and living like this – we walk around with a heavy cloud over us – sometimes choking the joy right out of us. And we think everyone must know what we’ve done – even though they rarely do. It paralyzes us. It prevents us from living a joyful life – a full life where we are able to clearly see the needs of others around us.
But if we could just grasp concept of grace – we are changed. We no longer live under man’s scrutiny or insinuations – we no longer feel condemnation – and we no longer let what others think of us – rule our emotions and feelings. We are free – and we understand what that grace means for our lives – because we can agree with Paul in the scripture above – that Christ Jesus came to save sinners, and like Paul we say – …’of which we are the worst’.
If this is true of your life today – you can shake off that feeling of shame and brokenness – forever. It is only by embracing and accepting the love of Jesus and His covering over those mistakes in your life – that you can really be free. Free from yourself. Free from the weight of carrying years of guilt and shame. Free from the lies that you cannot be forgiven – that you can’t be productive – that God won’t use you anymore because of what you’ve done. Accept His love and forgiveness today – don’t wait. Don’t spend another day carrying around this burden on your chest. He is waiting for you. Let’s ‘shake off the shame’.
I am praying for you