Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Turning Our Sin and Inadequacies to Praise

I have been struck recently by the wonderful opportunity we have to turn even our sin and our inadequacies into praise that glorifies the Son. Take, for instance, a sin I commit. There are two main possible responses. One focuses on my sin, my shortcoming, how bad I messed up, how lousy I am, etc. The other stands in awe that God forgave my sin, that He saw it before the earth was formed and created me anyway, that He loved me so much He would erase it with His own blood, that He has completely separated me from it, etc. One puts the eyes on me, the other the eyes on Him.

I tend to think the Biblical response is to dip quickly in and then out of the first, “Father, I’m sorry. I blew it," and then to dive and swim in the latter, “Oh, but thank You so much, Father, that you knew I’d do that before You even formed me yet you still did! I love you, Father. Thank you, precious Lord Jesus that you bore that sin on the cross for me! Thank you that I am completely forgiven of that sin and separated from it! Thank You that You will never leave or forsake me despite my mistakes! Thank you that you are so awesome and holy and wonderful that You love me with a love so vast and so deep and so wide! Thank You that sin matters to You, that you are purely good! Thank you that I matter to You, that You want me with You! Thank You! You are so wonderful and amazing! I praise You!” It strikes me that this is the pattern we see in Paul—he spent a bit of time, now and then, acknowledging his shortcomings, but the bulk of his time was spent praising God and God’s love and God’s complete sufficiency and provision and forgiveness in the face of his shortcomings.

What a difference a shift of focus can make! Our inadequacies can follow the same pattern. Either, “I am so inadequate to do this or that. I fall so short. I do so lousy at this or that,” on and on, etc., etc. Or we can say, “I praise You, Father, that though I alone am so weak at this or that, You are not, and Your grace is sufficient for me, and You are with me, and You will never leave me or forsake me, and that with You nothing is impossible, and that You are faithful to complete the good work You’ve begun in me, and that You both put Your desires in me and You work in me to bring them to pass! You are awesome and amazing and I love You and I praise You!” etc.

It’s about the eyes of our heart and mind. Are they on Him or on us? One path will take us down into the mucky pit and mud of self-focus, self-bashing, negative expectations, bitterness, depression, gloom, and darkness. The other will lift us beyond our shortcomings and into a place of praise and love and awe that stirs in us faith, positive expectancy of the future, and a longing to go on, to get closer to Him, and to glorify Him more. It has never been about us—we couldn't do anything to be born again (except faith) and we can't do anything to lose it. It is not about us, it is all about Him and what He has done. The enemy wants our eyes on us and our work (or lack of) so that we never fully understand the magnitude of the work Jesus did on the cross and our utter and complete forgiveness and acceptance before God, and the position we hold in Christ. God wants us to focus on His Son and the work His Son did, from love, on our behalf so we might walk from our position in Christ—completely forgiven, accepted, adopted, righteous, and with authority over the demonic. May we choose the latter and may all we do point to, and glorify, the Son! He alone is worthy!

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