Friday, January 13, 2012


   How often we hear the laments of Christians who know they don't deserve the grace they have received ~ much less anything more! How much I feel it myself ~ and this is what looks me in the face every time I go to pray for something I want. I don't deserve it. Now, faith rises above this feeling. It looks at God and what he has promised, not at myself and what I deserve.  Yet, we know there are conditions to answered prayer. God does have expectations for us as Christians, and David in the Psalms often held up his own righteousness as part of his plea.  How do we put these things together?

   The answer is to see ourselves the way God sees us. I am not talking about the much-repeated doctrine that when God looks at me he sees Jesus. I believe God can see me when he looks at me ~ and I believe he can love me the way I am. Yes, I am washed in the blood of Jesus ~ which makes all the difference in the world, but  it is still me he sees ~ the washed me. That washing is real. In one sense it is perfect. It puts me in perfect standing with God. In another sense it is ongoing, and still incomplete ~ but just as real. I do have real righteousness, and I am a very different person than I would be without Christ. Nonetheless, I feel very much my own shortfall. And I believe that the more Christ works in a person, the more he is likely to feel how very unworthy he is.

   God looks through all the imperfections and sees one of his own people. All the Old Testament saints ahd their weaknesses, and none perhaps more so than Lot, yet when Lot is mentioned in the New Testament, he is called righteous. In two short verses (2 Peter 2:7-8), three times, God calls Lot righteous, and makes a sharp contrast between him and the ungodly of Sodom and Gomorrah (vs.6.) (In the King James, the word translated righteous is once translated just, but in the Greek the word is the same all three times, and in English the meaning is the same.) The verses make it plain that this righteousness was real, not something only God could see. It caused Lot to vex over the sin around him, and to vex daily. Nonetheless it was far from perfect, and if Lot had asked to be delivered from Sodom, he probably would have thought, "I don't deserve it." But God is good, and the Lord knows how to deliver the godly. (2 Peter 2:9.)

   I Don’t Deserve     

I don’t deserve a moment’s grace
   Much less such love as this:
That One should die to take my place
   And all my guilt dismiss.

I can’t repay the debt I owe;
   I know I can’t begin.
The more I try my love to show,
   The more I feel my sin.

He gives me strength from day to day
   To set myself apart,
To walk the straight and narrow way,
   And love Him from the heart.

But all the good He’s worked in me;
  The strength, the faith, the love;
Does not attain the least degree
   Of what He’s worthy of.    

The God who gave His only Son
   And hides me with His wings
Is also now the very One             
   Who promises “all things.”

And should I think to earn the right
   His blessings to receive?
No, grace has brought me better light —
   And taught me to believe.

Nita Brainard
December 28, 2011

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