"If you love those who love you, what
credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love
those who love them. And if you do good
to those who are good to you, what credit
is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that."
These verses kept popping into my mind as I read some of the posts of a fellow blogger who I know loves the Lord with all her heart, and this morning I woke up feeling strongly convicted that I needed to send her an e-mail of exhortation. An e-mail written in love, acknowledging that the words I was writing were intended just as much--if not more so--for me than for her. But instead of sitting down at my computer and impulsively dashing it off, as would be my normal way, I decided to let the thought percolate on the back burner of my mind for a while.
As I went about some other tasks, I prayed for guidance as to what exactly I should say, when suddenly the thought came to me that since this is an issue that I myself grapple with BIG TIME, maybe it's something I should be blogging about rather than bringing to someone else's attention, no matter how lovingly. So here I am writing this post, and suddenly drawing a total blank as to what to say next.
I know that God loves each and every one of us unconditionally, and that He sent Jesus to die for all of us so that there would be hope even for the most seemingly hopeless. I know that no one is beyond redemption, and that there is no sin so great, no life so base, that it cannot be forgiven. So then who am I to pick and choose, to look down on, to criticize, to judge?
Every one of us is a Divine Original, created for a special purpose that no one else can fulfill. If we find ourselves living a blessed life rather than a wretched one, it may be good to remember that it is not the result of our efforts, though it may seem so in the eyes of the world. It is only by the grace of God.
Instead of being so quick to condemn, I need to give thanks as I remind myself that there but for the grace of God go I. I need to open myself up to be His instrument so that He can extend that same grace, through me, to the hurting and unlovable folks He has put in my path. That is so contrary to how my natural eyes see things, or what my intellect would tell me, but then that's what faith is all about. We need to have the faith of a little child to be able to enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3).
One of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, about how God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and to bring to naught the things that are, so that no one can boast. There is a wonderful paraphrase of this in The Message translation that says it all.
"The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction. . . . This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It is written, 'I'll turn conventional wisdom on its head.' . . . Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb--preaching, of all things!--to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.
. . . Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. . . . Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don't see many of the 'brightest and the best' among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these 'nobodies' to expose the hollow pretensions of the 'somebodies'? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have--right thinking and right living, a clean slate, and a fresh start--comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That's why we have the saying, 'If you're going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.'" (1 Corinthians 1:18-21 - The Message)
What else can I say, but Amen!