Grace. There are two important questions this word should bring to our minds. 1) What is it? and 2) Why do I need it?
This week we studied the encounter Jesus had with the woman caught in the very act of adultery. This encounter is a lived out picture of grace. Jesus did not desire to condemn. Jesus longed to forgive. Jesus challenged the hypocrisy of sinners condemning without forgiveness another sinner. This grace is profound. It is so profound that several of the early church fathers (Augustine and Ambrose among them) struggled with how to balance this type of grace and God’s call to holiness.
Think about this with me for a moment… this is exactly what the profound forgiveness that the Bible calls grace should do. It should challenge us. It should challenge our preconceptions about what holiness means. It should shake our tendency toward self-righteousness. It should make us ask questions about the nature of love and the power of forgiveness. If it doesn’t, it isn’t really all that profound, is it?
Now the second question – why does God offer such profound grace? Why do I need it? This is where we enter the story of the adulterous woman. We must answer this question – which person do I resemble more: the woman or the Pharisees? In other words, am I a desperate sinner in need of being saved; or am I a deluded sinner who looks down on the failures others? I wonder how often we gravitate toward the Pharisee. I think that perhaps we are often tempted to gravitate toward self-justification and making light of our own failures while magnifying the mistakes of others.
Why do we do this? Why do we deny our need? Well, it is a simple reality: no one wants to think of themselves as bad or wicked. However, instead of receiving the grace of Jesus and letting Him declare us forgiven; we declare ourselves okay and not as bad as others.
Together, let’s stop this. If we do, we too can be amazed at the grace we receive from God in Jesus. We can be forgiven instead of holding onto our own inadequate righteousness. I really like the joy expressed in the poetic thoughts from the hymn, It is Well With My Soul:
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought.
My sin, not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord oh my soul.
Something to think about,