I mess things up a lot. Even when I’m trying to do my best, somehow I have a huge tendency to take a really good thing and make it go horribly wrong. It’s easily apparent to me that I don’t treat people like I should, that I get angry, that I’m selfish. I disappoint my friends and family, I think bad thoughts about people, I try to make myself look more important than I am, and often that’s before I’ve finished my morning cup of coffee.
If there’s a God up there who matters, and if he’s watching my life, I know I’m in big trouble. I know if there’s some eternal balance sheet, I’m way in the red, with no hope of climbing my way out – and I’m what most people would consider to be a fairly “good” person.
I think Paul sums it up well in his messy internal dialog – “The trouble is with me,” he says, “for I am all too human.” He continues, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead I do what I hate. … I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. … I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind” (Rom 7:14-23).
If there’s a God who matters to how I live my life, I need him to be a little gracious. In fact, I need him to be *very* gracious.
Paul again – “No one can ever be made right with God by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God’s law, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying it.”
“But now, God has shown us a different way of being made right in his sight – not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago. We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we can all be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.”
“For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty” (Rom 3:20-24).
I believe in a God who says that I can be right in his sight – declared not guilty – no matter who I am or what I’ve done. For someone who’s done quite a bit and isn’t very loveable – for someone who reads Paul’s internal struggle and identifies all too well – those are wonderful words.
next: I believe in a God who is Just